Avalanche at Swiss ski resort Andermatt buries 'a number' of people

December 27, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Mountain rescuers and helicopters were searching last night for victims of four avalanches in Austria and Switzerland that injured at least two skiers.

More holidaymakers were feared to have been buried under snow, Swiss and Austrian police said.

After a big avalanche struck the Swiss resort of Andermatt, emergency workers rescued two people, who were airlifted to hospital with minor injuries. Four other skiers were pulled from the snow unhurt.

The slopes were crowded when the avalanche occurred. Stefan Kern, a resort spokesman, said: “It is possible that other people have been buried,” he said.

Reto Pfister, a police spokesman, said rescuers were assuming that there could be other victims and would continue searching.

A large rescue team with avalanche dogs trained to sniff out people under the snow were combing the slopes at Andermatt, but had found no other other victims by the end of the day. 

Three avalanches also came down at the Ankogel resort in Austria, where two off-piste skiers were buried but managed to climb out of the snow.

Rescuers were also continuing the search at Ankogel, but had not found anyone by the end of the day, a police spokesman said.

The avalanche risk throughout the Alps is at level three on a scale of five, according to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. The threat stems mainly from fresh snow and snowdrifts caused by wind.

“A dangerous avalanche can sometimes be triggered by a single skier if conditions are hazardous and there’s a lot of loose snow,” an official said.

A skier who narrowly escaped the Andermatt avalanche with his daughter told the online newspaper 20 Minutes: “It happened in a flash. Our only thought was to get a move on to try to get out of the way. We were very lucky. I’m thanking my guardian angel.”

He said helicopters arrived minutes after the avalanche, which officials said was about 300 metres (yards) long and 60 metres wide.

No one had been reported missing by last night.

A Swiss official said: “The police have to keep looking in case there’s anyone else trapped out there, but we’re crossing our fingers and hoping there isn’t. If anyone was missing, their families or friends would usually have notified us by this stage.”