VIENNA (AFP) – Five skiers from the Czech Republic were killed on Saturday in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps, in which 17 other people were involved, the police said.
Two of the skiers were injured but not critical, they added.
The five fatalities, men and women, belonged to two groups of off-piste skiers in a valley south of Innsbruck in western Austria.
Around noon, a third group of skiers had drawn attention to the avalanche at an altitude of around 2,000 m.
Some skiers managed to pull themselves off the snow slide, police said.
There were also a number of other avalanches on Saturday – the result of instability as a result of recent snowfall and a slight thaw – that had to rescue skiers in the Austrian state of Tyrol, known for its ski resorts and winter sports.
The deaths follow a string of deadly snow slides in the French Alps this season.
Most recently, on January 18, five soldiers of the French Foreign Legion died near the holiday resort of Valfrejus. A sixth day later died in the hospital.
Two French teenagers were also killed on January 13 when a teacher dragged a group of students onto a closed ski slope in the resort of Deux-Alpes.
He was seriously injured and later charged with involuntary manslaughter.
A Ukrainian tourist died in the same avalanche.