Two skiers were swept off-piste and killed as a string of deadly avalanches struck the Alps at the weekend.
Ten people died in total during avalanches, 30 of which hit the Tyrol region of Austria alone on Saturday, claiming the lives of eight.
Among the dead are two skiers aged 29 and 33, one of whom was a guide, who were caught in the snowslide and carried off the slopes. Their bodies were found in St Anton am Arlberg.
Other victims include a 17-year-old New Zealander and a Chinese man (32), who were both skiing off-piste, a German man in his 50s, and a man aged 62 who was reported missing when he didn’t return after cross-country skiing. His body was later found.
The avalanches also buried a 59-year-old man who had not been skiing, but was swept away while clearing the snow on his snow plough.
Heavy snowfall and high winds have been blamed for dozens of avalanches in Austria’s western ski area over the weekend. The alert level was raised to four on the five-point scale, which denotes that very large avalanches are likely.
Yet many holidaymakers continue to flout warnings. All skiers, particularly novices, have been advised to stay on designated ski runs and trails.
In the eastern area of Grisons, Switzerland, an avalanche buried a 56-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man at the weekend, both of whom were skiing off-piste. A third member of the group was also swept away but he survived.
Poor visibility and bad weather conditions hampered rescue efforts.
News of the deaths comes as ski resorts get ready to welcome holidaymakers and winter sports enthusiasts for mid-term holidays.