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Alaska Avalanche Kills Three

March 22, 1999

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ An avalanche swept two snowmobilers to their deaths on Sunday and two others were missing, authorities said.

A helicopter and specially trained dogs who can sniff out people buried under several feet of snow were looking for survivors.

Alaska State Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said the avalanche happened about 4 p.m. in the Turnagain Pass Recreation Area, about 50 miles south of Anchorage.

Troopers at the scene reported at least three injuries, Wilkinson said. He said the victims were riding snowmobiles when the avalanche occurred, but did not have other details.

Searchers convered on the slide area as the sun began to set Sunday, probing the snow looking for survivors. The search was called off at about 8 p.m. and was to resume at first light Monday, Wilkinson said.

The slide occurred nine days after another avalanche partially buried several people at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. Those skiers were not injured.

Turnagain Pass, in the Chugach Mountains at the northern end of the Kenai Peninsula, has received several feet of snow in the past few days.

The avalanche was not a surprise. The National Weather Service and the U.S. Forest Service both issued warnings last week that heavy snow followed by warm temperatures had sharply increased the chances for slides in the mountains.

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