Skiers trigger avalanches at Titlis and Verbier

An avalanche carried away 11 skiers at the Titlis ski resort at Engelberg in the canton of Obwald on Sunday but all but two — tourists from Sweden — managed to escape injury.

Skiers trigger avalanches at Titlis and Verbier
Skiing at Engleberg-Titlis (Photo: Switzerland Tourism)

Obwald cantonal police said the snow slide was reported to them shortly after 11am in the Laub area of the resort.

A 45-year-old Swedish citizen was flown in a helicopter by Rega emergency services to hospital for treatment of “moderate” injuries, police said.

Another Swede, 36, was treated for minor injuries while nine others were uninjured.

Ten of the eleven were able to dig themselves out of the snow unaided, while the other person needed help from fellow skiers, police said.

Seven of the skiers were part of a guided group.

The avalanche was described as being 300 metres wide and 800 metres long, occurring partway down the mountain on a slope identified as “off-piste” on the ski resort’s map.

It occurred at a time when the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research had issued a warning for the region urging “caution and restraint.”

While it appeared that all skiers survived the avalanche, police and rescue officials took no chances.

Two dog teams joined members of the Engleberg mountain rescue service, the Central Switzerland Alpine rescue service and cantonal police in a search for possible missing people.

Meanwhile, another avalanche injured a British skier on Sunday in the Col des Mines area of Verbier ski resort in the canton of Valais.

The incident occurred at around 10am in an off-piste area at an altitude of 2,600 metres, cantonal police said.

The victim, a 24-year-old man, suffered mild hypothermia after being swept down the slope along with another British man, aged 22, who escaped injury.

They were skiing with a woman who was uninjured.

The avalanche was 600 metres long and 200 metres wide, police said.

The incidents follow heavy snowfalls in the Alps in recent days with many ski resorts opening for the season over the weekend.

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9,000 lightning bolts: Heavy storms sweep across Switzerland

Hurricane-like gusts have swept across much of Switzerland on Sunday and Monday. Weather experts have counted at least 9,000 lightning bolts striking since Sunday.

9,000 lightning bolts: Heavy storms sweep across Switzerland

As of Monday morning however, the storms have largely receded in most of the country. 

Swiss weather service Meteonews said the canton of Bern was the heaviest hit, with 2,500 lightning strikes. 

Around 850 were recorded in Uri, followed by Fribourg, Vaud and St Gallen. 

Winds of 111km/h were recorded on the Weissfluhjoch summit, while wind speeds of 85km/h were recorded in Meiringen and Sitten. 

Monday will experience some winds, but will largely be sunny. 

Temperatures of 24C degrees are predicted in the north of the country, while heights of 30C are predicted for the centre and south.