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4 Die in Avalanches at 2 Remote Tyrolean Ski Resorts

November 20, 2000|From Associated Press

VIENNA — Two avalanches swept away groups of skiers at separate resorts in the western Austrian province of Tyrol on Sunday, killing four people, police and rescuers said.

The first avalanche roared down a mountain at the ski resort of Obergurgl, 215 miles west of Vienna, killing three German skiers. Five members of the group, from a ski club in Mannheim, Germany, freed themselves from the snow.

Rescuers struggling with snow up to 20 feet deep pulled one man out alive, but he died en route to the hospital, the Austria Press Agency reported. Bodies of a second man and a woman were found hours later.

The search, with helicopters and dogs, was concentrated on the Rosskar ski area, where witnesses said skiers had ventured onto runs that were closed due to avalanche warnings. The tiny resort near the Austrian border with Italy is isolated and nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.

A second avalanche struck hours later in Goelbner, another tiny Tyrolean resort 260 miles southwest of Vienna. It swept away a group of seven skiers, killing an Austrian man, police said.

The man was dug out by members of his group, but he died shortly afterward.

Last winter 39 people were killed in avalanches in Austria, 18 of them in Tyrol.

Sunday's avalanches came a little more than a week after Austria's biggest ski disaster, the death of 155 people during a fire on a train inside an Alpine tunnel.

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