A 24-year-old ski patroller from Switzerland has been killed after being caught in an avalanche while laying safety-control charges amid extreme weather that has claimed dozens of lives across Europe.
Multiple avalanches have struck Europe’s Alpine areas over the last few days, claiming at least 28 lives and isolating thousands of villagers in remote areas.
In the Austrian province of Salzburg, around 41,000 people have been cut off and more than 1,000 people are stranded in Balderschwang, Germany, where an avalanche hit a hotel on Monday.
The ski patroller had been laying down explosive devices to trigger avalanches artificially on Monday, decreasing the likelihood of skiers being caught by surprise.
He and a colleague were struck by the avalanche at around 11.25am in the Portes du Soleil ski area of France and Switzerland, the Local reported.
Damage caused by the snow at a hotel after the building was engulfed by an avalanche in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria
Soldiers remove snow from a hotel damaged by an avalanche in the village of Ramsau, Austria
Snow from an avalanche is seen near Ischgl, Austria. Countries in the alps have received heavy snowfalls in the past days and are facing roadblocks and increased avalanche danger in many parts of the affected regions
A red cross van is seen next to a hotel in Austria after it was struck by an avalanche overnight, though all guests and staff were evacuated safely
A hotel is damaged by snow from an avalanche that happened overnight in the village of Ramsau, Austria
Firefighter helpers remove snow from a rooftop in the small Bavarian village of Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
A snowplow removes heavy snow from the street in Galtuer, Austria this morning
A powerful avalanche in the village of Ramsau overturned a bus and smashed its windscreen last night
Around 60 hotel guests and staff were taken to alternative accommodation and no injuries have been reported
A tractor removes snow from a road way in Lofer, Province of Salzburg, Austria this morning. Due to the danger of avalanches the cities Lofer, Unken, St, Martin are isolated and cannot be reached by car
A vehicle that was damaged in a avalanche overnight is removed from the snow in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria
Though his colleague was able to free himself from the weight of the snow and attempted to rescue the trapped patroller, the 24-year-old died at the scene.
Just one day before, two employees at Morillon ski resort in the French Alps had been killed in similar circumstances when avalanche control charges they were setting accidentally went off. The pair, both French nationals, were carrying out a controlled explosion as part of an avalanche prevention programme.
Also yesterday, a Dutch man in his 50s died in an avalanche while skiing off piste with his 22-year-old son and a third person near the French alpine resort Valmorel.
While the son was able to dig his father out of the snow, he was unconscious and died shortly after medics arrived, local newspapers reported.
Officials said several avalanches have slammed buildings and roads in Austria but caused no injuries. A huge wall of snow slammed into a hotel in Ramsau, central Austria, overnight, but all 60 visitors and staff managed to escape the building unharmed. Around 50 of those were from a Danish ski club.
A snow groomer prepares a slope in Zuers, Austria this morning. Countries in the alps have received heavy snowfalls in the past days and are facing increased avalanche danger
Firefighters help remove snow from a rooftop in the small Bavarian village of Wallgau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany
A firefighter stands on a rooftop to clear it from snow in the small Bavarian village of Kruen on January 15, 2019
Countris in the alps have received heavy snowfalls in the past days. and are facing roadblocks and increased avalanche danger in many parts of the affected regions
A man fixed a sign warning ‘Danger of avalanches’ at the Loferer Alp in the province of Salzburg, Austria
A snow covered road is blocked today due to avalanche danger in Obermaiselstein, southern Germany
The hotel in Austria was hit by an avalanche overnight but one guest said that no persons were present in the part of the building that was hit
A bus operated by the travel company Flixbus flipped on its side in Austria, injuring at least 13 people yesterday
The head of a Danish ski club who was staying at the Ramsau hotel wrote online that the 200-year-old building had never before been hit by an avalanche
The head of the ski club confirmed that the hotel in Austria was hit by an avalanche overnight but ‘fortunately no persons were present in the part of the building that was hit.’
Niels Leth-Soerensen, chairman of the Hobro Skiklub, praised hotel staff in Ramsau and local rescue teams for swiftly evacuating all guests to another hotel.
Leth-Soerensen, who himself was part of the party, wrote on the club’s website that the 200-year-old hotel had never been hit by an avalanche.
It follows yesterday’s large avalanche which caused ‘massive damage’ to a hotel in southern Germany and at least four buildings in the village of Balderschwang, near the Austrian border. Some 100 people were safely evacuated from the hotel, which authorities said had been prepared for such an event.
A firefighter builds a snowman on a rooftop in the small Bavarian village of Wallgau
A snowplow train removes snow from the railtracks at the train station in the small Bavarian village of Klais near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
A overview of the damage in the hotel which was hit by an avalanche, in Balderschwang, Germany, yesterday
Yesterday’s accidents came as the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) raised the risk of avalanches to its highest level for a huge portion of the Alps.
A Level 5 threat level has been assigned only one other time (January 2018) in the last 20 years. The SLF wrote on its website that ‘numerous very large and extremely large natural avalanches [that is, not caused by human interference] can be expected.’
The risk was downgraded to level 4 today as drier conditions are forecast for the coming two days, but is still classed as ‘high’, as sunnier weather risks avalanches caused by melting snow and ice.
A drone photo shows the aerial view of houses and road after heavy snowfall at Sivrice district of Turkey’s eastern province of Elazig
A man walks through completely snow covered road after heavy snow in Bitlis, Turkey
This bout of bad weather is Europe’s worst snowfall in 30 years, and is forecast to continue throughout this week.
Davos in eastern Switzerland, the site of the World Economic Forum’s main annual meeting next week, is badly affected, as train services to the ski town ground to a halt, national rail service SBB said.
The head of the local government in the town of Disentis, Robert Cajacob, told AFP that the town’s population of 2,200 as well as ‘several hundred tourists’ currently had no way out because of rail closures and impassable roads.
The congress centre, venue for the World Economic Forum, is covered with snow in Davos, Switzerland
A train of the Parsennbahn cog railroad is seen in snow-covered landscape near Davos