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Five climbers die in Austrian Alps accident

Five people have been killed and one seriously injured in an accident on Mount Gabler in the Austrian Alps. The cause of the accident was not immediately known. All of the deceased are believed to have been German.

The accident involved six climbers in Mannlkarscharte, a remote gap in the mountains southwest of the Austrian city of Salzburg. The group had formed a rope team while climbing on a sloped glacier on Sunday, at some 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). Another group of alpinists witnessed the event.

According to state broadcaster ORF, the group was reportedly about to give up the climb as one of the climbers felt the slope was too risky. However, another members of the company, the second-nearest to the top, slipped and pulled the others with him. The mountaineers plunged some 200 meters down the hillside.

"The last two tried to stop the fall with their ice picks, but it was of no use," local rescuer Franz Gensbichler told Austrian ORF.

The authorities have yet to issue an official comment on the cause of the deadly incident.

Read more: Three skiers killed in French Alps avalanche

While five of the climbers were killed, the sixth one was airlifted to a hospital in Salzburg. Four rescue helicopters have been dispatched to the accident scene near Krimml. Emergency workers were trying to recover the bodies of the victims. 

"Our belief is that all of the mountain climbers are German," rescue team leader Martin Reichhold Reichholf. "The area is quite impassable."

One of the men has been identified as a 34-year-old German from Bavaria.

Read more: Climate change taking big bite out of alpine glaciers

At least three Italian climbers died in separate incidents on Saturday and Sunday. Two of them were killed while attempting to scale a glacier in Italian Alps, while another person died while being hit by boulders near the border with Switzerland.

Watch video 04:14

Hiking across the Alps

shs,dj/cl (AP, dpa)

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