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Teenage boy from Winchester killed in avalanche in Austria
A HAMPSHIRE teenager has been killed in an avalanche whilst skiing in Austria.
The 16-year-old from Winchesterwas enjoying a ski holiday with his father and twin brother in the Austrian resort of Lech am Arlberg.
The authorities in Austria have confirmed that the teenage boy died at the scene after becoming engulfed in the avalanche from which his 51-year-old father was pulled alive.
He suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital by air ambulance where he is being treated.
The boy's twin brother was uninjured as he was following slightly behind them.
It has been reported that the trio were skiing off-piste with an instructor when the ridge of snow fell at 1.30pm yesterday.
Rescuers said that the father and son had both been equipped with avalanche air bags that had activated as they were covered by the mass of snow. But the devices did not prevent them from being buried.
The 39-year-old instructor was the first to surface from the snow and immediately began trying to dig out the pair before rescuers arrived.
A police spokesman said: “The route they were on was according to our information not authorised. It was not allowed to go there, and the ski instructor that was responsible for the group and had an obligation not to take risks is under investigation.”
The instructor, who suffered minor injuries, is now being investigated over charges of “negligence leading to serious injury with fatal consequences”.
At the time of the incident the region had issued a category 1 avalanche warning - meaning there was a very low risk of an avalanche.
But experts said the category was deceptive and still carried a risk of sudden avalanches.
Andreas Pecl from the Avalanche Warning Service in Vorarlberg said: “The only lower category is 0 and we only have that in the summer. Even with a category 1 alert, people need to be aware that there are areas where it is nevertheless extremely dangerous. In addition it shows that even for people that are properly equipped, when there is an avalanche, there are no guarantees. Both of the injured had the avalanche air bags but it did not prevent this tragedy.”
The trio are believed to have been staying in the Four Star Haldenhof Hotel in Lech.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the death of a British National on December 17 in Austria.
“We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”
Lech am Arlberg is in Austria’s Vorarlberg state, which is a popular skiing area in western Austria.
It is the same resort where 43-year-old Dutch prince Johan Friso, second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was killed after skiing off-piste with a guide two years ago.
He was buried for 20 minutes and remained in a coma for 18 months until he died.
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