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Austrian avalanche kills Swedish skier

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Austrian avalanche kills Swedish skier
06:31 CET+01:00
A Swedish tourist was killed Wednesday when an avalanche hit a ski slope in the popular resort of Ischgl, in western Austria, police announced.

“He comes from central Sweden,” confirmed Camilla Åkesson Lindblom of the foreign office to daily Expressen.

The man, reportedly in his fifties had been skiing a red ski run, which was open at the time of the incident, the company operating the lifts said.

In the wake of the incident, prosecutors in western Austria said Thursday they were launching an inquiry into possible death by negligence.

"We are investigating why the run was not closed (due to the weather and avalanche risk)," said Hansjoerg Mayr, spokesman for the prosecution in Innsbruck, in the western province of Tirol.

The investigators will probe whether somebody was to blame for the incident and whether an avalanche in this spot could have been predicted, he said.

The targets of the probe were the local avalanche commission, which acts as

an adviser, and the ski facilities operator, Silvrettaseilbahn.

The avalanche occurred just after noon and despite emergency services quickly arriving at the scene, they were not able to save the man's life.

Though more than 60 people took part in the massive rescue operation and the man was dug out from under the masses of snow by 12.40pm, there was nothing that could be done for him.

“His relatives have been notified of the accident,” said Åkesson Lindblom to Expressen.

Several centimetres of new snow had fallen over night in the region, according to resort owners Silvrettaseilbahn AG, as reported by local paper Tiroler Tagezeitung.

The avalanche was reportedly some 100-metres wide and 1.5-metres tall.

In much of western Austria, including the popular ski regions of Tirol and

Salzburg, avalanche alerts were raised to level four, the second highest, as gale force winds battered the area and heavy snowfall was expected.

After an avalanche in the Swedish ski resort of Idre on Wednesday morning, probably caused by an off piste skiier but where no one was reported injured, Swedish avalanche alerts were also raised to level four.

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