/ Winter Sports

Ski slopes rocked by avalanches

Updated: Monday, 04 Jan 2010 15:08

The Alps have been devastated by a series of avalanches
The Alps have been devastated by a series of avalanches

Alpine avalanches and skiing accidents killed at least 10 people in Europe over the weekend, with three people missing and warnings of more danger.

Two avalanches bore down the Bernese Alps in central Switzerland on Sunday, together killing at least five people including a doctor in a mountain rescue team despatched to the scene.

The first killed a skier and the second struck as emergency services were searching for survivors.

Eight helicopters carrying doctors, rescuers and avalanche dogs were despatched to the site of the disaster and pulled out eight people alive, officials said.

Some of the survivors were in a critical condition and three died later in hospital, including the doctor who had arrived to treat people following the first avalanche.

Rescuers also found the body of a hiker who had been buried in the snow while three other people were reported missing, police said in a statement.

Another avalanche struck in Switzerland's western canton of Valais on Sunday, killing a skier although his mountain guide survived.

The body was found buried under 80cm of snow.

The Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research warned that there remained ‘considerable avalanche danger’ in much of the Swiss Alps on Monday although the threat would drop on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In western Austria, meanwhile, rescue officials said they had found the bodies of two German skiers, aged 18 and 19, who had fallen into a ravine in the state of Vorarlberg.

The man and woman were found near the Diedamskopf station.

Another avalanche hit mountains on France's border with Italy on Friday, killing three people.

A series of avalanches in the Italian Alps the previous weekend killed seven people, including a 12-year-old German boy and four rescue workers sent out to help two tourists.