Avalanche leaves two dead in Austrian Alps

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Helicopters and search teams headed to the scene near the village of Vent (file pic)Image source, Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA

A major search and rescue operation is under way after an avalanche in the Ötztal Alps in western Austria.

Two people have been killed, and at least two others are reported to have been rescued.

Austrian reports describe a snow slide of 180m (600ft) in length and 80m in width close to the village of Vent, not far from the Italian border in the province of Tyrol.

Initial reports suggest 17 people were in the area at the time.

They were described as part of a Dutch group taking part in winter sports.

However, not all of them were caught up in the avalanche, which took place close to the Martin-Busch Hut, at an altitude of 2,500m.

The local head of emergency services, Bernd Noggler, told the BBC that helicopters, rescue teams, dog teams and the Alpine police had headed to the scene.

He warned that the danger of new avalanches was very high so rescue workers were proceeding with extreme caution.

Rising temperatures in Tyrol have increased the risk of avalanches. Earlier this week a 19-year-old German hiker was caught up in an avalanche near Lake Achensee to the north-east of Innsbruck.

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