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AVALANCHE

Five dead in alpine avalanche

Five skiers from the Czech Republic were killed on Saturday in an avalanche in the Austrian alps that also engulfed 17 other people, police said.

Five dead in alpine avalanche
File Photo: Thermodynamic/Wikimedia

Two of the skiers were injured, but not critically, they added.

The five fatalities, men and women, belonged to two groups of off-piste skiers in a valley south of Innsbruck in western Austria.

Around mid-day, a third group of skiers had raised the alert about the avalanche at an altitude of some 2,000 metres (6,500 feet). Some skiers had managed to pull themselves out of the snowslide, police said.

Saturday also saw a number of other avalanches — the result of instability caused by recent snowfall and a slight thaw — in which skiers had to be rescued in Austria's Tyrol state, famed for its ski resorts and winter sports.

The deaths follow a string of fatal snowslides in the French Alps this season.

In the most recent, five soldiers from the French Foreign Legion died near the resort of Valfrejus on January 18 with a sixth dying days later in hospital.

Two French teenagers were also killed on January 13 when a teacher took a group of students onto a closed skiing piste at the Deux-Alpes resort. Seriously injured himself, he was later charged with involuntary manslaughter.

A Ukrainian tourist died in the same avalanche.

AVALANCHE

Bodies of world-renowned Austrian mountaineers found in Canada

The bodies of three celebrated professional mountaineers - two Austrians and an American - were found Sunday after they went missing during an avalanche on a western Canadian summit, the national parks agency said.

Bodies of world-renowned Austrian mountaineers found in Canada
Auer (left) and Lama (right). Photos: Facebook, AFP

American Jess Roskelley, 36, and Hansjorg Auer, 35, and David Lama, 28, of Austria went missing late Tuesday at Banff National Park. Authorities launched an aerial search the next day.

The three men were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Pass, an isolated and highly difficult route.

They were part of a team of experienced athletes sponsored by American outdoor equipment firm The North Face.

“Parks Canada extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones,” the agency said in a statement.

“We would also like to acknowledge the impact that this has had on the tight-knit, local and international climbing communities. Our thoughts are with families, friends and all those who have been affected by this tragic incident.”

Roskelley was the son of John Roskelley, who was also considered one of the best mountaineers of his own generation.

Father and son had climbed Mount Everest together in 2003. At the time, the younger Roskelley was only 20 years old, and became the youngest mountaineer to climb the planet's highest mountain above sea level.

Auer (left) and Lama (right), from Tyrol in Austria, were also considered among the best mountaineers of their generation.