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2 off-piste skiers missing due to avalanche near Mont Blanc

ROME – Rescue teams were on Sunday looking for two off-piste skiers caught in an avalanche near Mont Blanc on Italy’s northern border with France, local authorities said.

Two surviving skiers raised the alarm shortly after the 1 p.m. avalanche in Val Veny, above Courmayeur, but low clouds prevented helicopters from reaching the scene, Courmayeur mayor Roberto Rota told Sky TG24.

Rescuers arrived at the scene by snowmobile, but Rota said the chances of finding the skiers alive were slim given the amount of time that had passed.

Rota suggested that the four skiers were amateurs who had not gone up with a guide or the proper avalanche safety equipment, although he added that avalanche airbags would only have been useful if rescuers were nearby and on site within the first 15-20 minutes. were on site. .

“Unfortunately, it’s 99% that those involved don’t make it,” he said.

The avalanche risk for the area on Sunday was a level three “significant” hazard on a scale of five risk levels — low, moderate, significant, high and very high — used by Europe’s avalanche warning services, Rota said.

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