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Web campaign launched to cut avalanche deaths

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Web campaign launched to cut avalanche deaths
Photo: Robert Young
23:20 CET+01:00
A new campaign was launched on Wednesday in a bid to reduce the number of avalanche deaths in Swiss mountains.

A total of 22 people died and many more were injured in snow slides in Switzerland last winter, the Institute for Snow and Avalanche research (SLF) said.

In the past decade, 2,047 people were caught in an avalanche, with a third of them either injured or killed, SLF said.

More and more skiers, snow boarders and snowshoers head off-piste but the institute maintains that winter athletes who venture into mountain terrain often “poorly prepared” for tours.

It hopes to reduce accidents — and fatalities — by improving the availability of information about snow conditions through a campaign supported by Suva, the accident insurance provider.

An interactive platform for the prevention of avalanches, called White Risk (www.whiterisk.ch), that allows users to plan routes using maps, incorporating snow bulletin and weather information.

White Risk also includes teaching and learning tools as well a separate platform for producing educational presentations. 

“Anyone who gets into an avalanche has in 90 percent of cases triggered it themselves,” SLF spokesman Stephan Harvey is quoted as saying by the online version of the 20 Minuten newspaper.

The SLF traditionally offers avalanche bulletins with detailed information about snow conditions in the Alps.

Now it is offering apps that make it easier to stay informed by mobile phone.

The current bulletin can also be accessed continuously.

But Harvey said that this does not prevent the need for mountain trekkers to prepare their activities ahead of time.

The apps are only intended as a “supplement”, he said.

The SLF and Suva are offering two-day campis in February to draw attention to the dangers off-piste while offering tips on how to plan a safe tour in the mountains.

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