Avalanche in Austria kills several in Alps
An avalanche in Austria's Tyrol province claimed the lives of at least five people on Friday. According to search and rescue personnel, one person is unaccounted for.
"It was one of 13 avalanches today in Tyrol. ... It happened off-piste," Patrick Ortler from rescue services told the AFP news agency.
Another person was injured and taken to the hospital while rescue efforts continued.
Helicopters from Switzerland and Austria were dispatched to the scene to assist with search and rescue efforts, Ortler said.
Six people rescued in separate incidents
Another avalanche on Friday buried five people in Sölden, a popular ski resort in the province. All were rescued alive. Recent heavy snowfall has been accompanied by warmer temperatures, meaning there is a high level of avalanche danger in the region.
Warnings have been issued in high-lying areas over the past few days.
A German woman was reported to have been buried in an avalanche in the resort of Glungezer and was rescued alive.
A police spokesperson said she had been buried for 15 minutes and added that "surviving for 15 minutes is a total stroke of luck."
Avalanches in Austria are not uncommon and cause on average 20 deaths each year.
In early December, three people were killed in an avalanche in Salzburg province.
The 1999 Galtür avalanche in Tyrol claimed the lives of 31 people and was considered to have been the worst in decades. During the so-called Winter of Terror in 1950-1951, more than 200 people died in the worst avalanche season on record.
kb/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)