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Steve McCormick in the Tyrol
"Skiing even on-piste has been severely limited"
 real 28k

The BBC's Julia Bicknell
"Reports say they ignored avalanche warnings"
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Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 15:02 GMT
Avalanche survivor rescued

A rescue team waits to be flown to the site of the avalanche

Rescuers have finally managed to reach the site where nine German tourists were killed in an avalanche on Tuesday.

A lone woman survivor was evacuated by helicopter after skies cleared at midday.

She was transported to a hospital in Zams, where she was said to be in relatively good condition. A doctor said she would probably be discharged in a few days.

Forty others trapped by the avalanche were flown out from a multi-storey hostel some 2,000m up.

The helicopter also brought down the bodies of the victims - six men and three women.

Questions raised

Tourists are flown out of the area where nine German tourists died in an avalanche on Tuesday

Earlier attempts to reach the site were hampered by poor visibility and heavy snows in the area, some 15km (nine miles) south of Galtuer. The area can only be reached by foot or from the air.

As the weather improved, the helicopter shuttled back and forth bringing down other tourists, guides and cabin attendants to Galtuer - some 90km (55 miles) south-west of Innsbruck.

The nine Germans - who were all said to be experienced mountaineers - died when they were caught by an avalanche while making their way to the Jamtal Cabin. Two survived and were dug out, but one died while waiting to be evacuated.

The group had apparently set out for a millennium party in a mountain hut, despite warnings from locals to stay away from slopes vulnerable to avalanches.

Galtuer's mayor, Anton Mattle, told reporters on Wednesday that the area around the Jamtal Cabin had been declared a danger area because of the threat of avalanches on Monday.

The vice mayor, Martin Lorenz, said "there are many questions" to be answered about why the tourists were in that area.

Further warnings

Authorities have warned of the danger of further avalanches throughout the Alpine area and in eastern Austria.

Austria was blanketed by over 40cm (15 ins) of snow on Tuesday as the weather front which has caused havoc in western Europe moved east.

Two other people died and a third was seriously injured on Tuesday in an avalanche near the village of Vent, 100km south of Innsbruck.

In a third incident, a 22-year-old snowboarder was killed after sparking a snowslide while off-piste near Murau, some 80km west of Graz in southern Austria.

Since 1998, Austria has recorded 56 avalanches which have killed nearly 50 people and injured about 70.

Earlier this year, 38 people were killed by massive snowslides which destroyed houses in Galtuer and Valzur.

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See also:
25 Feb 99 |  World
Avalanches: A fatal attraction
29 Dec 99 |  Europe
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28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Paris storms threaten millennium chaos
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Storms cause havoc across Europe
28 Feb 99 |  Europe
Austria mourns avalanche dead

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