8 Jan 2019

Seven die in massive alps snowfall from Germany to Italy

9:46 am on 8 January 2019

At least seven people have died in the Alps during a weekend of heavy snow, with skiers facing a high avalanche risk in Austria, Germany and Italy.

05 January 2019, Bavaria, Bolsterlang: If there is heavy snowfall in the Allgäu, a sign indicates that snow chains must be used to reach the Riedberg Pass. Photo: Oliver Willikonsky/dpa

A sign indicates snow chains to be fitted on vehicles as heavy snow falls in Bolsterlang, Germany. Photo: AFP

Two separate avalanches killed two German skiers in Austria's Vorarlberg mountains. A third skier died in Pongau district, near Salzburg.

In Bavaria, a skier died when a tree collapsed near Bad Tölz. An avalanche killed a young woman in Bavaria's Teisenberg mountains.

Two climbers died in the Italian Alps.

A mountain rescue team found their bodies at the elevation of 2800m on Mt Cristalliera, in the Alps north of Turin.

Rescuers are searching for several missing people elsewhere in the Alps.

The second-highest avalanche warning level is now in force across the Austrian Tyrol and in much of the Bavarian Alps.

Skiers have been warned to avoid any off-piste skiing, and many mountain roads have been closed because of the avalanche risk.

Italy is in the grip of a cold snap - snow has even reached Matera, in the far south. There is also snow on Mt Vesuvius near Naples - a rare sight.

The heavy snow has forced many schools to close temporarily across Bavaria, and has disrupted some train services there.

More heavy snow is expected in the coming days - as much as 120cm of fresh snow in Austria by Thursday.