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Avalanches in Italian Alps kill seven

28 December 09 03:45 GMT

A series of avalanches in the Italian Alps has killed seven people, emergency services said.

Four of those who died were rescuers searching for two tourists killed by an earlier avalanche in the Trentino region of northern Italy.

Another avalanche killed a 12-year-old German boy skiing in the same area.

The head of Italy's civil protection service, Guido Bertolaso, said rescuers were dying because people were ignoring warnings about conditions.

The two tourists, from Udine, northern Italy, went missing on Saturday afternoon. Relatives said they were both experienced and careful skiers.

The seven-strong rescue team sent to find them was hit by a second avalanche and four members were killed.

Police said the German teenager was hit by an avalanche while skiing off-piste with his brother and a friend.

The brother was unhurt while the third skier was taken to hospital in the nearby city of Bolzano. His condition was not known.

Local officials recently increased the avalanche alert warning to level four on a scale of five following heavy snowfall and a rise in temperatures.

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