rescue operation underway

Three caught in avalanche in northern mountains

Rescue workers have reached the man and two women who were caught in an avalanche while skiing off-piste in Kittelfjäll, northeastern Sweden, police said. While they are out of harm's way, the two women suffered fractures.

"The terrain is rugged and difficult to access," Markus Karlsson of the local police told news agency TT at around 2.10 PM on Sunday.

Two hours later, police confirmed that rescue workers had reached the three skiers and were bringing them out of the area where they got caught after the avalanche hit.

Rescue workers used snow shoes, sleds and snowmobiles in their effort to reach the three, but a helicopter was not called in due to the harsh weather conditions. A lot of snow had fallen in the area in the 24 hours preceding the avalanche and visibility was poor.

"When it's this windy, up to two metres of snow can cover the slopes and that's where people want to ski off-piste," Per-Olov Wikberg of the Mountain Safety Council said.

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