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High avalanche risk in Alps amid heavy snow; 2 dead

January 6, 2019
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Musher Michael Ruopp is pulled by his huskies as he rides on a field near Lichtenstein, Germany, Sunday, Jan.6, 2019. (Thomas Warnack/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Authorities warned Sunday of a high risk of avalanches on the northern side of the Alps, after heavy snowfall in recent days created dangerous conditions across parts of southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

A 20-year-old skier died in an avalanche Saturday on Mount Teisen, near the Austrian border, German police said. The woman’s five companions were unharmed.

In Austria, public broadcaster ORF reported that a 26-year-old man died Sunday after being struck by an avalanche while skiing near the town of Schoppernau.

Authorities in Austria closed some roads and train lines because of avalanche risks, while airports in the region have seen delays as workers struggled to clear the large amount of fresh snow and de-ice planes.

Hundreds of passengers were stuck for hours on a train early Sunday after a snow-laden tree crashed onto the tracks near Kitzbuehel, Austria. About 14,000 households were temporarily left without electricity in northern Austria because of damage to power lines.

ORF reported that about 600 residents and tourists were still stuck in the Austrian village of Soelktal following a road closure. An Austrian army helicopter managed to drop some supplies there on Sunday.

Officials in the nearby Salzburg region described the situation as “very precarious,” noting that large avalanches could be triggered spontaneously.

The German weather service DWD forecast a further 40 centimeters (almost 16 inches) of snowfall in some areas by Monday.

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European Avalanche Warning Services: http://www.avalanches.org/eaws/en/main.php

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