Avalanche kills 3 skiers in Austria as 2 ski patrollers killed in French Alps by avalanche charges


Three German skiers were killed and a fourth is missing after they were struck by an avalanchein the Austrian Alps, officials said Sunday as two ski patrollers were killed in France when the devices they use to trigger avalanches exploded.

The bodies of the men in Austria, ages 57, 36 and 32, were recovered Saturday evening near the ski resort of Lech hours after they were reported missing, according to Sky News.

Police in Vorarlberg, the country’s westernmost province, said the friends had apparently skied onto a trail that was closed.

A search for the missing German skier in the group, age 28, had to be called off because of heavy snow and the risk of avalanches.

The group of skiers had avalanche protection equipment and deployed airbags, but were buried by the avalanche and suffered multiple injuries. They were located with the help of cellphone tracking, according to officials.

A man cleans snow from a roof on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019 in St. Jakob, Austrian province of Tyrol.

A man cleans snow from a roof on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019 in St. Jakob, Austrian province of Tyrol. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

In France, police said that two ski patrollers were killed in Morillon when the devices they use to trigger avalanches exploded as they were securing the slopes at a ski resort.

The accident in the French Alps took place before the ski slopes were opened to the public. Ski patrollers are in charge of preventing potential dangers to skiers, notably by triggering controlled avalanches with powerful explosive charges.

A man prepares a horse to ride tourists during a cold winter day at a hill, near the Assumption Cathedral in the small Russian town of Dmitrov.

A man prepares a horse to ride tourists during a cold winter day at a hill, near the Assumption Cathedral in the small Russian town of Dmitrov. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The risk of an avalanche was estimated at “high” Sunday in Morillon, with a rating of 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 following a heavy snowfall overnight, according to the Associated Press.

The deaths over the weekend bring the total to at least 26 weather-related deaths reported in parts of Europe this month.

On Saturday, authorities in southern Germany and Austria used a break in the weather to clear heavy loads of snow from roofs and roads.

A snow blower works on a road at the Loferer Alp, Austrian province of Salzburg, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.

A snow blower works on a road at the Loferer Alp, Austrian province of Salzburg, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

But snow set in again on Saturday night. In the Bavarian town of Kempten, local authorities closed 11 sports halls as a precaution through Tuesday because the weight of snow on their roofs was expected to increase, the German news agency dpa reported.

All parks, public gardens, play areas and cemeteries were closed in the Austrian city of Salzburg because of the danger of trees falling under the weight of snow, according to Sky News.

Three people were killed in eastern Switzerland when an avalanche hit a hotel at the Schwaegalp mountain pass on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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