(Vienna) Nine winter sports enthusiasts were found unharmed and one seriously injured after an avalanche in Austria triggered major searches on Sunday and raised fears of a very heavy death toll, rescuers said on Monday.
The incident occurred on a runway around 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. [heure de l’Est]) at about 2700 meters above sea level, in the Lech Zürs ski area, in the Vorarlberg region (west).
The police, based on the video of a skier, initially reported “a dozen people buried”.
One of them was saved, according to a spokesperson, while a second was able to free herself and go to the hospital.
Seven other people appearing in the footage were eventually found safe and sound.
A person of German nationality is seriously injured and has been taken to hospital, said Hermann Fercher, director of the tourist office in charge of communicating on the progress of the operations.
Helicopters and several teams accompanied by dogs were mobilized.
Those rescued are from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the United States.
Rescuers had warned this weekend against a high danger of avalanche in this area as well as in neighboring Tyrol, pointing to the fragility of the snowpack in a context of mild weather.
In recent years, in Austria, snowslides have caused an annual average of around twenty deaths.