Dec. 8, 2020

Swiss avalanche accident rescue
Stock image, SLF

BERLIN (AP) — An avalanche accident killed one skier in Switzerland.

Authorities in the Swiss canton of Nidwalden said one off-piste skier among a group of five people was killed in an avalanche accident Monday in the Titlis area, south of Lucerne. Rescue teams were not able to resuscitate the 23-year-old Swiss citizen after he was rescued.

The victim died on the scene near the Titlis mountain. Two others, out of five, were also hit but managed to free themselves without serious injury.

The group was skiing off-piste when the avalanche struck at around 10.15am. An investigation into what triggered the avalanche is ongoing.

A 23-year-old German man was also injured in an avalanche accident Monday in Austria’s Hahnenkamm skiing region in Tyrol. He went skiing on a closed slope. He was taken by rescue plane to a hospital in Kempten in Bavaria.

In a broad swath of the Alps in Switzerland, authorities raised the avalanche warning level to 3 on a five-point scale. Exceptionally heavy snowfall was dumped over the weekend. Some higher elevations recorded between 50 and 80 centimeters (20-32 inches) of snow over the last three days.

Snow Pummels Austria, Italy, Germany and Switzerland

Several roads were still closed in Tyrol and some valleys were cut off from the rest of the country. Electricity provider Tinetz said 4,000 homes lost power after several electrical lines were snapped by snow or fallen trees, public broadcaster ORF reported.

Austria issued avalanche warnings Tuesday for the country’s mountainous east after days of heavy snow pummeled the region.

Northern Italy saw massive snowfall over the weekend and snow also hit parts of Germany and Spain as well.

“It’s true that it’s early for the season” to have so much snowfall, said Mikhael Schwander, a meteorologist with Swiss weather service MeteoSuisse. He said the higher the elevation that the snow fell, the greater the risk of avalanches — although that also depends on other factors including the temperature and the types of snow on the ground.

According to SRF Meteo there is an elevated avalanche threat throughout northern Ticino, including Centovalli, and in the southern valleys of Graubünden and the Upper Engadine. In these regions, it’s a Level 4 on the five-part danger scale.

Location of avalanche accident
Location map, from Swiss SLF


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