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Weekend avalanches kill at least 10 in Alpine ski resorts

At least 10 people were killed in avalanches this weekend across the Austrian and Swiss Alps, many of them skiing off officially marked trails.

As resorts filled up over school holidays, some skiers flew down slopes off the sanctioned trails. That was despite warnings of dangerous conditions and declaration of a level-four avalanche alert, the second-highest, in Austria.

The dead included tourists from New Zealand, China and Germany, who died at ski resorts throughout the region.

On Sunday, Austrian police announced five deaths, including a 59-year-old snowplow driver who had been swept away. A 32-year-old Chinese skier, a 17-year-old man from New Zealand and a German man in his 50s also died. The three were skiing separately but not on designated trails, BBC News reported.

Austria’s Tirol region alone saw more than a dozen avalanches. The bodies of a ski guide in Sankt Anton am Arlberg and a 62-year-old man who was cross-country skiing around the summit of Hohe Aifner were also recovered.

Switzerland saw the deaths of a 56-year-old woman and 52-year-old man when unstable snow collapsed on them in the southeastern part of the country on Saturday.

In South Tirol, Italy, a mass of snow broke loose about 7,200 feet up near the Limo Pass, about 50 miles east of Bolzano. Winds of 75 mph hampered rescue efforts. By the time rescuers got to the victim, she was buried under more than 8 feet of snow.

In St. Anton in Austria, a 29-year-old ski guide and his 33-year-old client fell prey to an avalanche triggered by a snowboarder above them.

With News Wire Services

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