Avalanches killed 27 people in Switzerland so far this winter, authorities have reported.
The figure is in line with the multi-year average, the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) said.
By March 1, 24 people had died – nearly twice as many people as the average at that point in the season.
The worst accident occurred on January 3 on the Drümännler in the Bernese Oberland, when two avalanches buried 14 backcountry skiers and one rescuer. Seven people, including a doctor from the Swiss Air Rescue Service, died.
Two backcountry skiers were killed on February 20 at Tomülpass Safien in the eastern canton of Graubünden. The rest of the accidents claimed only one life each.
In 2008-09 25 people died in avalanches, 28 in 2007-08 and 21 the year previous.
Authorities said snow this winter was very unstable, which meant avalanches could start even with low levels of fresh snow.
Most accidents this past year occurred at avalanche risk levels of 2 to 3 (moderate to considerable). On average three quarters of accidents occur at these levels.
According to the SLF, a person buried by an avalanche has an 80 per cent chance of survival if freed within the first 15 minutes.
Last year there were six deaths of snowshoers compared with only one this year.
swissinfo.ch and agencies
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