Over the weekend, the Alps experienced a series of devastating avalanches, leading to an increase in the confirmed death toll to 11 by Monday morning. This included the fatalities of a ski guide, multiple tourists, and a snow plow operator.
The holiday season saw a surge in ski tourism, despite the Austrian government’s warnings of a high risk of avalanches. Due to heavy snow and wind, a level four avalanche warning was issued, which is considered a very serious threat by authorities. Despite these warnings, some skiers still ventured onto the slopes with devastating consequences.
Austrian police reported five fatalities over the weekend, including a 59-year-old snow plow operator in Tyrol and a 29-year-old ski guide in Sankt Anton, am Arlberg. The two were skiing off-piste when a snowboarder triggered an avalanche. A 62-year-old cross-country skier near the summit of Hohe Aifner, a 17-year-old New Zealander in Tyrol, a 32-year-old Chinese national, and a 55-year-old German were also among the victims. All of these individuals were reported to have been skiing off designated trails when avalanches hit.
In Switzerland, a 56-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man died due to unstable snow.
In Italy’s South Tirol region, a 31-year-old German woman was buried under 2.5 meters of snow following an avalanche. Despite wind speeds of 120 kph hampering rescue efforts, her body was eventually recovered.