1.25-Mile-Wide Avalanche Buries 17 Skiers, Kills 5 in Austria Over Weekend

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Rescue teams preparing for rescue in Austria last weekend. AFP/Getty
Rescue teams preparing for rescue in Austria last weekend. AFP/Getty

Tyrol, Austria police have reported that 17 skiers were caught in an avalanche on the Junsjoch mountain near the Wattental valley near Innsbruck, Austria on Saturday, February 6th, 2016.  5 of the 17 caught in the avalanche perished.  All 5 deceased skiers were Czeck citizens.  The dead skiers were all buried 4-11 feet deep.

Only 2 of the 12 survivors were injured.  Miraculously, 10 of the people swept up by the avalanche walked away completely uninjured.

The 5 deceased Czech skiers were participating in a “freeride camp” and were reportedly repeatedly warned about high avalanche danger by locals according to the Tyrolian TV station ORF.

Location of the fatal avalanche. image: bbc
Location of the fatal avalanche. image: bbc

Avalanche danger was at 3 out of 5 at the time and place of the avalanche.  3 out of 5 is the avalanche rating under which the most people die.  19 avalanches were reported in Austria on this same day including several injuries.

Tyrol police spokesman Helmut Schuetz told the Associated Press that the skiers caught in the avalanche were in two separate groups of twelve when the avalanche hit them.

The avalanche is reported to have been 2km (1.25 miles) wide and as deep as 16 feet in spots.

Search and rescue crews, avalanche dogs, and helicopters were used in the rescue.

Some of the skiers were able to self extract while others were dug up by rescuers.

Rescue crews searching for bodies/survivors. photo: AFP/Getty
Rescue crews searching for bodies/survivors. photo: AFP/Getty

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