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Austria avalanches: Nine dead as rescue callouts in Tyrol hit 'unprecedented' level

Rescue helicopters stand on a street near the Gammerspitze after an avalanche killed one person on February 4, 2022.
Rescue helicopters stand on a street near the Gammerspitze after an avalanche killed one person on February 4, 2022. Copyright ZEITUNGSFOTO.AT/AFP
Copyright ZEITUNGSFOTO.AT/AFP
By Euronews with AFP
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Rescue services in Austria's Tyrol region say they made some 70 interventions after 100 avalanche-type incidents were reported over three days.

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Authorities in Austria say nine people were killed in a series of avalanches in recent days, mainly in the Tyrol region where around 100 snowslides were recorded.

Five people from the same group died on Friday, rescue services said. Earlier they reported that four were dead and a fifth person was missing.

Police said the victims were Swedish and aged around 40, who were "off-piste" with a mountain guide when they were all buried in snow in the Ischgl skiing area near the border with Switzerland.

The guide and four of the men who were with him were carried away over 350 metres and entirely buried. A fifth man, the only survivor, called a friend on the phone and was evacuated by helicopter.

On the same day, a 60-year-old man and his 61-year-old wife died while cross-country skiing near the village of Auffach, according to another statement from the Tyrol police.

On Saturday, an Austrian man of 58 was killed at Schirmn, not far from Innsbruck. He was with four other people who were injured.

Emergency services have been called upon to intervene after an exceptional number of avalanches since Friday.

"Over the past three days there have been around 100 incidents involving avalanches, requiring 70 interventions," the authorities in Tyrol said on Sunday, describing the figure as "unprecedented" and warning of a heightened danger expected to persist over the coming days.

Friday saw another fatal accident, in Vorarlberg, a mountainous state in the far west of Austria, when an experienced skier of 43 years old lost his life. His friends found him and raised the alarm, but rescuers were unable to revive him.

Elsewhere, an avalanche swallowed up five winter sports enthusiasts in the popular resort of Sölden, but all were rescued.

In neighbouring Switzerland, police said an 68-year-old Italian hiker died on Saturday in the southern Valais canton, while his companions were quickly rescued.

Swiss authorities had warned people before the weekend to be "careful, careful, careful", adding that people had been caught up in 45 avalanches in the country this winter.

Last Thursday, heavy snowfalls had caused one death and several injuries in the eastern Grisons canton, bordering Austria's Tyrol.

In recent years, avalanches have killed an average of 20 people a year in Austria.

The last two seasons have been less deadly as the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the number of skiers in the mountains.

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