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Switzerland's search dogs get ready for deadly avalanche season

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By Reuters
Switzerland's search dogs get ready for deadly avalanche season
A dog searches for survivors during a life-saving exercise after avalanche at the Glacier 3000 in Les Diablerets, Switzerland, December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse   -   Copyright  DENIS BALIBOUSE(Reuters)
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LESDIABLERETS, Switzerland (Reuters) – Doctors and search dogs took to the skies in a helicopter on Friday to practice rescuing hikers and skiers in the build-up to the Swiss Alps’ deadly avalanche season.

Emergency crews laden with specialist equipment landed on Glacier 3000 above the village of Diablerets, then carried the dogs out onto the snow.

Doctors used spades to dig out a volunteer, helped by the dogs who have been trained to burrow through drifts and sniff out victims.

Nineteen people died in the Swiss Alps during the 2018/2019 winter season, official figures show.

Conditions have become more hazardous as Switzerland’s glaciers retreat in the face of global warming, leaving mounds of unstable scree behind them.

More than 500 Swiss glaciers have already vanished and the government says 90% of the remaining 1,500 will go by the end of the century if nothing is done to cut emissions.

(Reporting by Denis Balibouse; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Andrew Heavens)