Avalanche in Italian Alps kills 3 skiers


March 2 (UPI) — An avalanche in the northern Italian Alps near the French border has killed three skiers and injured several others, authorities said Thursday.

Eighteen skiers, who were back-country skiing, were hit by falling snow near the ski resort in Courmayeur, La Repubblica reported. Around 1 p.m., the avalanche broke from a wind-loaded chute in Val Veny valley in the Mont Blanc area, officials said.

The skiers, most of whom were wearing airbag packs, had gone through fresh snow when the avalanche occurred. The injured skiers, including a girl, were taken to a hospital in the Aosta Valley after being hit by falling rocks.

Search and rescue teams, including sniffer dogs, initially looked for skiers who were reported missing. Officials said later Thursday that no skiers remained unaccounted for.

The dead include a 35-year-old freelance engineer from Turin, Italy, and two unidentified people from Belgium and Germany.

Weather was sunny and warm this week but because of fresh snow and strong winds the avalanche risk in the region was a 3 on a 5-point scale.

A second avalanche occurred in the same area later Thursday, but no injuries were reported.

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