2009 Schalfkogel avalanche

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Austria within Europe
The avalanche occurred in Sölden.
Schalfkogel as seen from the north from the Firmisan pass

The 2009 Schalfkogel avalanche was an avalanche which occurred in Sölden, Austria, on 3 May 2009. Six people were killed, five Czechs and one Slovak, when the disaster struck in the 3,500-metre (11,500 ft) Schalfkogel mountain range. The corpses were discovered to have been frozen upon recovery.[1] It was the deadliest avalanche to have occurred in Austria since March 2000.[2] Although avalanches are a regular occurrence in the region, they mainly kill individuals as opposed to entire groups.[3]

Incident[edit]

The victims were hiking when they were buried under two and half metres of snow which fell on them.[4] The avalanche occurred on 2 May at the Sölden ski resort.[5] The hikers were approximately 1,600 feet (490 m) below the summit.[5] Authorities said the six bodies were retrieved as they ascended Schalfkogel between the ski resorts of Sölden and Obergurgl near the Italian border.[6] A rescue effort had gotten underway on 2 May but was suspended that night.[4] The search had earlier been called off.[7] Rescuers were hampered by severe weather conditions.[8] Witnesses had seen the avalanche and reported it by 16:15 but rescuers were delayed by the snowstorm.[1][3] As soon as the rescue helicopter was able to land all of the victims had been located within the hour.[1] It is understood four of them quickly died and froze after being buried under the snow, whilst the other two had some oxygen and survived in an unfrozen state until this became impossible.[1] Rescuers said these two might have been rescued.[1]

Survivor[edit]

One forty-five-year-old man survived.[4] He was a friend of the victims.[5] He had stayed behind in a mountain hut whilst the others continued on their journey.[5][9] The bodies were identified by this survivor.[5]

Reaction[edit]

The mayor of Sölden, Ernst Schöpf, said: "It [was] clear that conditions were not right for a high-altitude tour on Saturday."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Six mountain climbers die in avalanche in Austrian Alps". The Telegraph. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Avalanche Kills Six In Austrian Alps". Sky News. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Climbers killed in Austria Alps avalanche". The National. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c "Avalanche kills 6 in Austria". CBC. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Six climbers die in Austria Alps avalanche". United Press International. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 12 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Six climbers killed in Austria Alps avalanche". Reuters via MSNBC. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Six dead in Austrian avalanche". The Guardian. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  8. ^ "6 hikers killed in Austria avalanche". CNN. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "6 killed in avalanche in Austria". Xinhua News Agency. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "Six killed in Austrian avalanche". RTÉ. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 6 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 

Coordinates: 46°58′N 11°00′E / 46.967°N 11.000°E / 46.967; 11.000