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Alps avalanche alert after off-piste skiers killed

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Photo: AFP
08:41 CET+01:00
The dangers of off-piste skiing were laid bare on Tuesday when two skiers were killed in the Savoie region of the French Alps when avalanches swept them to their deaths.

A 37-year-old Spanish skier died near the resort of Val d'Isere when he was swept away by a wall of snow.

A French skier was left seriously injured in another avalanche near the resort.

On the same day a 30-year-old skier from the Czech Republic was killed at Saint-Colomban-des-Villards as he skied off-piste near the resort of Sybelles.

The risk of avalanches have increased after heavy snow falls in recent days were followed by strong winds. That has led to unstable formations of snow high up in the mountains.

The specialist French mountain police at the resort of Courchevel were called out to eight separate avalanches on Tuesday alone.

Authorities in the Alps have called on those practicing winter sports to take the necessary precautions so as not to put their lives in danger.

"The recent and significant snow falls, which will continue for the rest of the week, covered a blanket of very snow meaning the risk of avalanches is high - level four out of five - around the whole of the Savoie area," said the local authority in a statement.

The deaths come just days after two Lithuanian mountain climbers were killed in an avalanche in the French Alps.

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Emergency responders said the avalanche happened at an altitude of some 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) above Argentiere at around 1200 GMT.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was forced to release a statement urging "everyone to take the utmost precaution because of a high avalanche risk".

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