Avalanche in Austrian Alps leaves 2 dead
Two members of a backcountry skiing expedition died Monday after being buried in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps, police said.
The victims were part of a group of 12 people skiing in deep, ungroomed snow, so-called ski touring, when the avalanche struck Monday afternoon at the foot of a mountain in the Rantenbach valley of Austria's Styria province, dpa reported.
Austria's APA news agency reported that the avalanche caught four other members of the skiing party, three of whom were about to quickly free themselves from the snow. A fourth survivor, a woman, was dug out of the snow by her companions.
The dead men were both Austrians, ages 69 and 71.
All members of the group were wearing sonic locator beacons, which are standard safety equipment for backcountry skiing in case of avalanche. The other skiers were able to find and dig out one of the men, but he was already dead.
Survivors left on foot to summon help, which took hours. The second victim was found Monday evening, buried about 150 centimetres deep in snow.
Police sources said that the skiers had underestimated the risk of avalanche in the region. New, heavy snow in recent days has sharply increased avalanche dangers in the Austrian Alps, and local officials hiked their avalanche warning level.
More snowfall was forecast for Tuesday in parts of Austria, including up to 50 centimetres at higher elevations and 70 centimetres in Salzburg province.