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Avalanche in Alps Kills One Woman

February 23, 1999

AOSTA, Italy (AP) _ An avalanche hit a village in the Italian Alps early today, killing one woman and injuring several other people.

Heavy snowfalls have set off a series of avalanches in the Alps in recent weeks, killing more than a dozen people in France, Switzerland and Austria. Snowstorms snarled traffic and halted trains today in Germany.

Initial reports said dozens of people were feared buried but seven hours after the avalanche, rescue crews said they didn’t think anyone else was trapped in the snow in Morgex, near Italy’s northwestern border with France and Switzerland.

Most of the village’s 40 residents were presumably sleeping when the snowslide struck at 6:30 a.m. State-run RAI TV said the avalanche tore down utility poles, complicating the rescue operation.

A 52-year-old woman died when the avalanche tore through her home, hurling her against a wall, RAI said.

In Austria, the Austria Press Agency said a man and a woman died Monday when an avalanche enveloped a mountain restaurant near Gargellen.

And in Switzerland, the search for eight people missing after two avalanches swept away chalets in an alpine valley was called off after a second day with no results, state police said.

More than 100 rescue workers searched the mass of snow that hit between the villages of Evolene and Les Hauderes on Sunday but found no trace of the missing people, most of whom were French tourists.

Eight inches of fresh snow fell overnight in the valley, south of the city of Sion.

Two victims have so far been found _ a 23-year-old local council employee and his 22-year-old girlfriend, who were driving in a snow-clearing vehicle. A 9-year-old girl survived with a broken leg.

In central Switzerland, a house was swept away by avalanches early today, state police said. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was buried.

Villages and valleys elsewhere in the Swiss Alps remained cut off from the outside world by recent snowfalls.

And in western Romania, two Czech tourists were missing and feared dead after they were caught in an avalanche over the weekend, police said today.

In Germany, about 80 trains were canceled after the heavy snow and strong winds tore down overhead lines and tossed trees onto the tracks, railway spokesman Karl Josef Bales said.

Traffic on the autobahn over the Hunsrueck peak near Mainz was backed up for 30 miles early Tuesday. Forecasters in Munich were predicting up to 3 feet of new snow on Wednesday.

In the city of Aachen, on the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, traffic was cut off for hours due to 10 inches of snow that fell overnight. Traffic jams on the surrounding highways during morning rush reached 10 miles.

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