Dramas in the middle of the tourist season. A series of avalanches has claimed three lives in western Austria since Friday as the season is in full swing, with authorities warning of the risks associated with a particularly unstable snowpack.
Intense snowfall and wind have increased the avalanche danger in Tyrol and Vorarlberg over the past two days. Warning service specialists in these two popular regions have called on winter sports enthusiasts to exercise caution. The alert level of four on a scale of five has not stopped many holidaymakers from venturing off marked trails, authorities say.
This avalanche situation gave rise to numerous rescue interventions on Saturday, made perilous by the weather conditions. The February school holidays have started in Vienna and the resorts have filled up, after a gloomy start to the season, marked by the absence of snow at low and medium altitudes.
Three tourists died in two days
“A winter sports enthusiast lost his life on Saturday in Kaltenbach in an avalanche,” a Tyrolean police spokesman told AFP, refusing to give information on the circumstances of the accident. According to the Austrian press agency APA, he is a 17-year-old New Zealand citizen who plays off-piste.
On Friday, a 32-year-old Chinese man lost his life after leaving the track during an avalanche in the resort of Sölden. Saturday morning, another skier reported missing the day before the lifts closed, was found mortally buried in the neighboring region of Vorarlberg, according to the police questioned by AFP, who did not wish to give more details. According to the Austrian agency APA, he is a fifty-something who died in the Kleinwalsertal valley, bordering Germany.
In recent years, in Austria, a leading destination for winter sports, snowslides have caused an annual average of around twenty deaths.