Six skiers are reported to have been killed in an avalanche in the Italian Alps – one of the deadliest to hit the area in many years.
Several other people are reported to be missing. A major rescue operation was launched.
The avalanche struck late in the morning at more than 3000 metres on Monte Nevoso, also known as “Snowy Mountain”, in South Tyrol near the Austrian border.
At least four of the dead were Italians according to officials. Two other bodies recovered remained unidentified.
An Austrian woman was injured and was being treated in hospital in the town of Brunico.
Two other people caught in the avalanche escaped unhurt.
The skiers were reportedly climbing to the summit of the mountain, planning to ski down, when the avalanche happened. The cause is unknown.
Three helicopters were dispatched to the area but had trouble reaching the scene because of the altitude, Italian media reported.
Specially trained dogs and dozens of rescuers and fire fighters were also sent to search for those still missing.
Italian media reported a risk of avalanche of three on a scale of five.