Six skiers rescued from avalanche in central Switzerland

The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research ranks Andermatt as a level 3 avalanche danger. Updated photo to come. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

On Thursday morning, an avalanche swept down a ski piste in the resort town of Andermatt in canton Uri in central Switzerland. Two people had to be rescued with minor injuries and four others were able to break free unharmed.

This content was published on December 27, 2019 minutes

Cantonal policeExternal link spokesperson Reto Pfister confirmed to Keystone-SDA news agency that the avalanche made its descent around 10:50 am in the region of Oberalp Pass. During a press conference, authorities indicated that the avalanche was very large at 60 to 300 metres. It is not clear what triggered the avalanche.

All six skiers who have been rescued are Swiss according to the cantonal police. Pfister said that there were no further reports of missing persons.

Swiss Alpine Rescue, Rega (Swiss Air-Rescue) and cantonal police were mobilized.

According to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), an avalanche danger level 3 applies to the Andermatt region. It writes that “Avalanches can be released, even by a single winter sport participant and reach dangerously large size. Backcountry touring and other off-piste activities call for experience in the assessment of avalanche danger.”

The cause of the avalanche is still unknown. Police are also investigating whether the piste ought to have been open on Thursday.

Second avalanche in St. Moritz

A second avalanche was reported in St MoritzExternal link in the eastern Canton of Graubunden. One snowboarder was seriously injured. It occurred beyond the marked and secured piste near Piz Nair at 10am on Thursday. The 36-year-old snowboarder, who lives in Switzerland, was climbing the same slope with three others for the second time that day.

The last member of the group triggered the avalanche and was swept away by the snow a distance of about 400 metres. The other three people were not injured according to cantonal authorities.

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