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Avalanche warning for off-piste skiers

Published söndag 10 mars 2013 kl 10.52
The ski resort of Åre. Photo: Janerik Henriksson / SCANPIX

There are renewed calls for off-piste skiers in the ski resort of Åre to invest in avalanche transmitters and other safety equipment after three avalanches occurred in the area in the past week.

Several days of snowfall has made the terrian in the Åre mountain region unstable, reports news agency TT.

A 32-year-old man was killed in an avalanche on Friday while another avalanche was triggered west of Åre on Saturday afternoon, although police say no-one was found buried beneath the snow at the time they called off their search last night..

The two latest avalanches occurred outside areas avalanche assessed by Swedish holiday operator Skistar.

"We safeguard against avalanches in various ways, including by blasting, but it is done in the off-piste areas adjacent to the lifts. Our assessment does not apply outside the area where the risks can be very different," says Linda Wassel, at Skistar in Åre to TT.

The police are warning skiers to take extreme care due to the uncertain weather conditions which can trigger an avalanche.

"It has blown and snowed a lot and landslides have occurred in places you do not expect. If one ends up in an avalanche it is like Russian roulette and we therefore call on everyone to be really careful and just go into secured areas," said Peter Borg, duty officer at the police command centre in Jämtland.

The head of Åre Avalanche Centre says Swedish off-piste skiers do not take enough safety precautions and they do not carry avalanche transmitters which can help locate them buried under a mountain of snow.

"Unfortunately, because so many go off-piste and lack the experience required. They will gladly spend money on expensive skis and clothes but opt ​​out of a piece of equipment that can actually be essential if you end up in an avalanche situation," Mårten Johansson told TT.

Skiers in Åre described the mood as subdued.

"Everybody is talking about what happened and you get a lesson about the risks you take sometimes. I'm thinking of taking avalanche transmitters," says Michael Skala from Stockholm who went off-piste in the area in recent days.

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