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First victims Two killed by avalanches over weekend

Swiss avalanches have claimed 1,884 lives since 1936

(Keystone)

The first avalanche victims of the winter sports season were killed over the weekend in cantons Uri and Valais. On Friday, a 28-year-old French national was killed near Ovronnaz while a ‘young’ skier died, and two others were injured, in Gemsstock, near Andermatt, on Saturday.

Some 1,884 people have died in avalanches in Switzerland since records began in 1936, according to Swiss public television SRF. Several thousand others have been caught up in avalanches.

Friday’s victim was buried in an avalanche 400 metres long and 12 metres wide, at a height of 2,500 metres. A group of hikers managed to dig him out, but he was already dead.

On Saturday, a group of five young off-piste skiers (ages unknown) were caught in an avalanche at 2,400 metres that swept three of them away. The two who avoided the snow deluge alerted rescuers and helped dig out their friends. Two were airlifted to hospital after suffering injuries, but a third died in the accident.

According to the local authorities, some pistes in the area, in canton Uri, were closed because of an avalanche risk rating of 3 (out of 5). An investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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