Avalanche claims skier’s life in Switzerland

A skier has died in central Switzerland after being caught in an avalanche. The accident comes a day after the authorities had issued elevated avalanche warnings for some areas of the country, following up to 60cms of snowfall.

The 23-year-old victim died on the scene near the Titlis mountain, despite being found by rescue workers and receiving resuscitation treatment. Two other skiers, out of a party of five, were also hit by the avalanche but managed to free themselves without serious injury.

The group was skiing off-piste when the avalanche struck at around 10.15am. An investigation into what triggered the avalanche is ongoing.

Unlike many other countries in Europe, Switzerland has decided to open its ski resorts during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Across the Alps, in Austria, France, Germany and Italy, ski resorts will be closed for at least a month due to fears that an influx of people will spread the virus. As a result, the winter tourism that is the single most important economic sector in the Alpine regions will be put on hold over its busiest period. But Switzerland – for now – is the exception.

Heavy snowfall over the weekend disrupted rail and road traffic in southern and southeastern Switzerland. There is an elevated avalanche threat throughout northern Ticino, including Centovalli, and in the southern valleys of Graubünden and the Upper Engadine. In these regions, it’s a Level 4 on the five-part danger scale.

Five people were killed by avalanches in Switzerland last season, a number that was significantly lower than the average 18 deaths per year in recent winters. It was the lowest number of avalanche deaths in 60 years.

Source: SWI