Austria avalanches kill at least 8 people

Authorities say five people were killed on Sunday after three other deaths were reported in the mountains the previous day.

Austrian police say five people were killed in avalanches in the west of the country after three deaths were earlier reported despite pleas for caution on the ski slopes.

The eight deaths came as resorts are filled during the February school holidays, with the avalanche alert level at four on a scale of five after several days of intense snowfall and wind.

On Sunday, authorities recovered the body of a 59-year-old man buried while using his tractor to help with the snow removal, police in Austria’s western Tyrol region said.

Two skiers, aged 29 and 33, and a guide were found dead in Saint Anton am Arlberg. And a 62-year-old man, who had not returned after cross-country skiing around the summit of Hohe Aifner, was recovered by rescuers and could not be revived.

On Saturday, a 17-year-old New Zealander, a German man in his 50s, and a 32-year-old Chinese man were found dead.

Over the past two days, heavy snowfall and wind have increased the avalanche danger, with officials warning winter sports enthusiasts to exercise caution.

Thirty avalanches were reported on Saturday in Tyrol alone, 11 of which involved missing people, with rescue operations hampered by poor visibility and bad weather conditions.

Avalanches have killed about 20 people annually in recent years in Austria, a top winter sports destination.

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