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Backcountry skiers die in weekend avalanches

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Backcountry skiers die in weekend avalanches
Mount Titlis, the scene of one fatal accident. Photo: Caroline Bishop
12:32 CEST+02:00
The Easter weekend was a fatal one in the mountains, with several people losing their lives due to avalanches and falls, many whilst ski-touring.

On Saturday rescue workers found the body of a 23-year-old man from Zurich who died the day before.

According to news agency ATS he was ski-touring with two companions in the region of Mount Titlis near Gadmen in the canton of Bern when he fell, for reasons as yet unknown.

Also on Saturday a 35-year-old man from Bern was killed by an avalanche whilst ski-touring near Iffigenalp in the Bernese Oberland, 20 Minutes reported.

On Easter Sunday a 44-year-old Swiss man died whilst ski-touring in the Sulzgrates region in the canton of Valais.

Rescue workers from Air Zermatt found him under buried under 40 centimetres of snow after he was carried away by an avalanche, 20 Minutes reported.

The news comes as the Swiss press reports fewer avalanche deaths this winter season than average.

According to figures released by the Institute for the study of snow and avalanches (SLF) in Davos on Monday, 13 people have been killed by ten avalanches so far this season, compared with 25 deaths by the end of February last year.

This season's figures date from the first avalanche, back on October 24th, to the latest on Easter Sunday, March 27th.

A late start to the season meant the mountains did not see many off-piste skiers and ski-tourers – the most at risk from avalanches – until after Christmas.

Fresh snow then destabilized an already fragile snowpack during January and February, the organization told ATS, before the situation normalized in March.

According to the SLF, the average number of deaths due to avalanches per season over the past 20 years is 23.

More than 90 percent of fatal avalanches occurred in uncontrolled terrain, with victims practising sports including backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.

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