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snow risk Two lives lost in weekend avalanches

snow in mountains

Mountains of snow: in canton Graubünden, January 14, 2019.

(© KEYSTONE / Gian Ehrenzeller)

Two people lost their lives in separate avalanches in south-western Switzerland on Saturday. The risk of further incidents remains marked, authorities warn.

A snowy January in Switzerland has already brought several incidents and avalanches to the Alps; Saturday saw two more victims, a walker and a ski-tourer, both killed in separate accidents in south-western Switzerland.

Near Charmey in canton Fribourg, a 55-year-old man was buried when a group of some 14 walkers triggered a snow movement in the early afternoon. Three others from the group were also injured and transferred by helicopter to hospital.

Meanwhile, a little further south, in canton Vaud and the municipality of Château-d’Oex, three members of a ski-touring group were swept away by a separate avalanche; while two managed to be extricated, the third, a 39-year-old Frenchman, lost his life.

According to reports, a snow-ledge on which the skiers were touring suddenly gave way, setting off the avalanche.

Several accidents have occurred so far in January, following heavy Christmas and New Year snowfall across much of the Alps. Two skiers lost their lives earlier in the month, while last week a snow patroller was killed while on the job in canton Valais.

According to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche researchexternal link, the risk of avalanches remains considerable across most of the Swiss Alps. Walkers, ski-tourers and off-piste skiers should choose routes with caution, and should have experience in evaluating avalanche risk, the institute warns.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story reported that the accidents occurred in south-eastern Switzerland.

SDA-ATS/dos

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