Police: No One Believed Missing in Austrian Avalanche

Police said Monday they believe no one is missing after a Christmas Day avalanche that swept across a ski trail near the town of Zuers in western Austria. 

First responders initially assumed as many as 10 people could be buried based on cell phone video from a witness showing the group near the avalanche that covered 500 meters (yards) of the trail near the 2,700-meter Trittkopf mountain, police in the Vorarlberg region said in a statement. 

One partly buried man was recovered with serious injuries and 200 rescuers were deployed to search the snow mass for more.  

It turned out that several of the people in the video had escaped and skied on down the mountain into the valley without reporting their involvement, and it took hours to track everyone down, police said. Three persons suffered minor injuries. A search was continuing Monday to make sure, but police said that “according to the current state of information, it can be assumed that no further persons are missing.” 

The avalanche followed days of heavy snow, followed by warm weather on Christmas Day, and the mountain rescue service had rated the avalanche danger as high. The head of tourism in the Zuers and Lech am Arlberg region, Hermann Fercher, said that the avalanche occurred even though explosives had been set off in that area to reduce the risk, the dpa news agency reported. Police said they would be investigating how the accident came about.  

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