11 People Killed as More Than 100 Avalanches Hit Austrian and Swiss Mountains

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Emergency crews were on the scene at a fatal avalanche in Tyrol, Austria. Credit: EPA

Avalanches killed eleven people in four days when more than 100 avalanches struck Austria and Switzerland, local media reported Sunday.

“The past three days have seen some 100 avalanche-type incidents requiring 70 interventions.”

– Tyrol regional authorities said Sunday

One person died Thursday, and several others were injured in avalanches in the Graubunden region of Switzerland, which borders Austria’s Tyrol.

On Friday, there were five fatalities, including three from one group who were off-piste with a guide near Ischgl, Austria. Just one party member of four survived as the 1,200-foot wide avalanche engulfed the group.

A man, 60, and his 61-year-old wife were caught and killed in a slide while cross-country skiing near the village of Auffach, also on Friday, police said. They had reached the summit of Breiteggspitze, but when they did not return from their trip, the alarm was raised.

An avalanche this weekend in Tyrol. Credit: Tyrol Police

Then on Saturday, an Austrian aged 58 was killed near Innsbruck in an avalanche that injured four others, and an avalanche killed an experienced skier of 43 in the Vorarlberg region of Austria. In neighboring Switzerland, an avalanche claimed the life of a 68-year-old hiker on Saturday.

Five skiers were also buried by avalanche inbounds at the resort of Soelden but luckily were rescued.

“It was a mountain of snow about 8 meters (26-feet) high. We were glad we escaped. But soon after, we saw people panicking around us. Then we realized that there were people under the snow. We immediately started digging like crazy. Some of the other skiers had special shovels that we could use.”

– A survivor of the inbound avalanche at Soelden

Austria’s Tyrol region and Switzerland’s Alpine chain are on alarm level three, out of a scale of five, signifying elevated avalanche risk.

On average, avalanches claim around 20 lives a year in Austria.

Map showing the Austrian state of Tyrol.

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