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Three German skiers dead in Austrian avalanche

Three German skiers dead in Austrian avalanche

Three German skiers were found dead overnight and a fourth is missing after they were swept away in an avalanche near the Austrian ski resort of Lech am Arlberg, police said on Sunday. The group of four had been using touring skis, which enable skiers to climb as well as ski down slopes and explore…

Three German skiers were found dead overnight and a fourth is missing after they were swept away in an avalanche near the Austrian ski resort of Lech am Arlberg, police said on Sunday.

The group of four had been using touring skis, which enable skiers to climb as well as ski down slopes and explore off-piste, police in the western province of Vorarlberg said.

The three dead men, from the Upper Swabia area of south-western Germany, were found around 11 pm (2200 GMT) after one of their wives declared them missing. They were aged 57, 36 and 32. The fourth person, who is 28 and also from southern Germany, was still missing, a police statement said.

Heavy snow has hit the Austrian Alps in the past week, raising avalanche warning levels and cutting off local roads.

The avalanche brings to at least 24 the number of weather-related deaths reported in parts of Europe this month.

Police said the friends had apparently skied on to a trail that was closed. Although they had avalanche protection equipment and deployed airbags, the victims were buried by the avalanche and suffered multiple injuries. They were located with the help of mobile phone tracking.

On Saturday, authorities in southern Germany and Austria used a break in the weather to clear heavy loads of snow from roofs and roads.

But snow set in again on Saturday night. In the Bavarian town of Kempten, local authorities closed 11 sports halls as a precaution through Tuesday because the weight of snow on their roofs was expected to increase, the German news agency dpa reported.

Trains between the German cities of Munich and Lindau, on Lake Constance near the Austrian border, were travelling more slowly than usual because of a risk of that trees weighed down by snow could fall on to the tracks.

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