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Desperate search for buried skiers after avalanches hit Austria and Switzerland – the sun, thesun.co.uk

Desperate search for buried skiers after avalanches hit Austria and Switzerland – the sun, thesun.co.uk


A DESPERATE search is underway for buried skiers afteravalanches hit Austria and Switzerland.

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The authorities say “a number” of people are missing after three avalanches hit the Austrian ski resort of Ankogel and one struck Andermatt in Switzerland.

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After a large avalanche spilled onto the piste at the Andermatt ski resort, two people with minor injuries were pulled from the snow and taken to hospital, a Swiss police spokesman said.

There could be more people buried under the snow and a large rescue squad was carrying out the search with significant resources, he said.

Danger for the area had been at level three on a scale of five, according to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), which said fresh and wind-drifted snow was the main threat.

The avalanche at Andermatt happened just before 30 am on slope number in the Oberalppass area, According to witnesses.

A British skier on the ground, who asked not to be name,told the Evening Standardhe had just skied down slope number 30 when snow from the avalanche hit the piste.

“It happened at a really busy time in the morning so there were lots of people on that slope – it could have been 100 people or ten people. It’s hard to know, “he said.

“There seemed to be quite a lot of people searching on the piste and they were digging for at least two or three people.”

RESCUERS DIGGING

He explained that skiers would unlikely be wearing avalanche gear and beacons on the slopes so rescuers were “digging and searching randomly”.

“No one knows what is going on but when I was there, we had just skied down to the bottom when the avalanche happened.

“We were literally on that piste two minutes earlier so we missed it by the skin of our teeth.”

Reto Pfister, state police spokesman in the Swiss canton of Uri, told

(NBC News) : “We believe there are more people buried but we can’t say how many.”

The avalanche is believed to have covered an area measuring by 300 ft.

Meanwhile in Austria, three avalanches came down in Ankogel in the province of Carinthia, an Austrian police spokesman said.

One happened outside the secured ski slope and buried two free riders who were able to free themselves.

More than rescue workers, helicopters and dogs are searching for people who might have been buried under a major avalanche that came down directly on the slope, he said.

He added it was too early to say anything regarding potential fatalities.

The avalanche warning level had also been at three on a scale of five, according to Carinthia’s warning service.

It was too early to say anything regarding any potential deaths, the spokesman added.

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Anne Jehn, director of Andermatt Ski Academy, was on the scene just after the avalanche hit and helped rescue a woman.

Speaking on Instagram she said: “She was ash gray. Shocked. But I guess she’ll be okay.”

According to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, the area has an avalanche a danger level of three out of five.

The avalanche occurred mid-morning while many holiday skiers enjoyed mountain sunshine the day after ChristmasCredit: AP: Associated Press

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