ROME – Rescue teams on Sunday searched for two skiers caught in an avalanche near Mont Blanc on Italy’s northern border with France, local authorities said.
Two surviving off-piste skiers raised the alarm shortly after the 1pm avalanche in the Val Veny above Courmayeur, but low-lying clouds prevented helicopters from reaching the scene of the accident, Courmayeur Mayor Roberto Rota told Sky TG24.
Rescuers came to the scene on snowmobiles, but Rota said the chances of finding the skiers alive were slim given the time that had passed.
Rota theorized that the four skiers were amateurs who had not ascended with a guide or proper avalanche safety equipment, although he added that avalanche airbags would only have been useful if rescuers were nearby and within the first 15 to 20 minutes would have arrived at the scene of the accident.
“Unfortunately, 99% of the time those involved won’t make it,” he said.
Sunday’s avalanche risk for the area was a “considerable” level three hazard on a scale of five risk levels — low, moderate, significant, high and very high — used by the European Avalanche Warning Services, Rota said.
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