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6 die in Austrian avalanche

SIX mountain climbers were killed in an avalanche near the major ski resort of Soelden in the Austrian Alps at the weekend, regional police said yesterday.

Witnesses spotted the snowslide in rugged highlands on Saturday and alerted alpine rescuers but they could not reach the scene until yesterday due to poor weather, police in the Tirol provincial capital of Innsbruck said.

A police official said rescuers retrieved the bodies of six climbers who had been ascending the 3,500-meter Schalfkogel peak in an isolated region southwest of Innsbruck which is between Soelden and Obergurgl ski resorts close to the border of Italy.

The only survivor in their group was a middle-aged Czech man who had opted to remain behind in a hut. It was believed the victims were all from the Czech Republic.

The Austrian Alps received unusually heavy snowfall this winter and avalanches have been frequent and sometimes fatal, killing mainly individual skiers who had ventured off patrolled slopes.


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