Published on Monday 7th/02/2022 at 1630 EAT
Nine people have died following a wave of avalanches in a popular skiing region of Austria.
Between Friday and Sunday, more than 100 avalanches have hit the western region of Tyrol, prompting the country’s danger level to be raised.
Local authorities said the situation was “unprecedented”, and warned there could be more avalanches to come.
There were also two deaths in neighbouring Switzerland, and many people needed to be rescued.
With further snowfall and strong winds predicted in Tyrol, Austria’s avalanche warning level which has a scale from one to five, was increased to level four, meaning “very large avalanches are likely”.
Of the nine people who died in Austria, eight of them were reported in Tyrol, which is known for its Alpine mountain landscapes and ski resorts.
On Friday, four Swedish skiers and their mountain guide were killed near the Ischgl ski resort on the Swiss border.
The group had gone skiing off-piste when they were swept away by an avalanche. According to emergency services, only one member of the group survived after he managed to call for help and was airlifted out by helicopter.
On the same day, a 60-year-old man and his wife, 61, died while cross-country skiing near the village of Auffach, police said.
Then on Saturday, a 58-year old local man was killed at Schirmn near the city of Innsbruck in an avalanche which injured four other people, according to Austrian broadcaster ORF.
And on Sunday, an experienced skier, 43, was killed in Austria’s most western region of Vorarlberg.
Local media reported that 480 mountain rescue workers were involved in emergency operations across the region, as well as the Austrian armed forces and army helicopters.
Avalanches are common in countries such as Austria and Switzerland.
The avalanche warning service advises inexperienced skiers to remain on open ski runs and trails and for experienced skiers to stay away from very steep terrain while alert level four is in place.