Three winter sports enthusiasts from the Netherlands died in an avalanche in the Ötztal Alps in Austria. The ski hikers were 33, 35 and 60 years old, the police said. Another buried Dutchman had been rescued by the afternoon. The 32-year-old was flown to hospital with injuries. Nobody was suspected to be under the masses of snow anymore.

It was originally assumed that 18 people might be affected after the avalanche near Sölden. However, this was ultimately not confirmed. A total of 17 winter sports enthusiasts from the Netherlands and 4 Austrian mountain guides were in the area, but most were not caught by the snow masses. The winter sports enthusiasts were a ski touring group, as mountain rescue and police reported. The uninjured holidaymakers and the mountain guides were brought into the valley.

Rescue work temporarily interrupted

The rescue work had to be temporarily interrupted in order to blow away the threatening masses of snow on the edges of the slope. The avalanche occurred on the route to the Martin-Busch-Hütte, located at 2,501 meters above sea level.

There had been a lot of fresh snow in the mountains of Tyrol in the past few days. Helicopter crews, mountain rescuers, dog squads and alpine police were deployed in the accident area. As a precautionary measure, a major alarm was also raised at the clinics in the region. According to initial findings, the snow slab – about 180 meters long and 80 meters wide according to the authorities – had detached itself. The mayor of Sölden, Ernst Schöpf, pointed out that “there is still a hell of a lot of snow up on the mountains.” “In the end it was just an avalanche,” he said at a news conference.

It was only on Tuesday that a six-person hiking group suffered a gliding snow avalanche at Bärenkopf on Lake Achensee (Schwaz district). A 19-year-old German was dragged almost 300 meters by the snow, buried and killed. His companions survived the accident. According to an analysis by the avalanche warning service, the avalanche was not triggered directly by the hikers, but rather the snow masses began to slide spontaneously.