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Avalanche kills 3 skiers in Austrian Alps

April 11, 2024

At least three Dutch skiers have died during a ski excursion near the popular Austrian resort of Soelden in Tyrol province.

Helecopters wait on a patch of snow near a road after an avalanche in Sölden, Austria
Mountain rescue teams were dispatched to the incident at 2,500 meters up the mountainImage: Zoom.Tirol/APA/dpa/picture alliance

At least three people from the Netherlands were killed in an avalanche in the Ötztal Alps near the Austrian ski resort of Soelden on Thursday, authorities said.

The three who died were part of a bigger group of 17 from the Netherlands on a skiing excursion to a mountain refuge accompanied by four Austrian mountain guides.

The avalanche hit just before 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) and swept away four people in the group. Authorities estimate the snowfield from the avalanche was around 180 meters long and 80 meters wide. 

According to a police statement, two people were found dead buried in the snow, and the third was pulled out alive, but died later at the scene.

Part of Sölden village in the Austrian Alps
The avalanche warning level near Sölden was "moderate," the second level on a five-tier scaleImage: ZOOM.TIROL/APA/picturedesk.com/picture alliance

The rescue work was difficult due to the threat of subsequent avalanches and had to be interrupted at times. Eventually, the mountain guides, and the rest of the group were able to return safely to the valley. 

Rescuers were able to reach the site of the avalanche near a mountain refuge by helicopter at about 2,500 meters (8,500 feet) above sea level. 

The avalanche warning level in Tyrol province, where Soelden is located, was "moderate," the second level on a five-tier scale.

The Tyrol region recently received heavy snowfall.  

The avalanche blasters

rm/wmr (Reuters, dpa, AFP)