18 Feb 2012

Dutch prince buried under avalanche in Austria

6:23 am on 18 February 2012

Dutch Prince Johan Friso is in a critical condition in hospital after being hit by an avalanche in the Austrian resort of Lech.

The prince, 43, was buried under the snow for about 15 minutes before being rescued.

He was resuscitated at the scene and taken to hospital in Innsbruck, where officials said he was stable but his condition was "still life-threatening".

Prince Friso is the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Several members of the royal family had been on holiday together in Lech, in the western province of Vorarlberg in the Austrian Alps.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed that the queen was there but had not been involved in the incident.

The BBC reports the prince was skiing with a small group off the marked pistes when the avalanche occurred shortly after midday on Friday. No-one else was injured.

In a statement, the Dutch government said the prince was in intensive care:

''Doctors treating him describe the prince's condition as stable, but his life remains at risk''.

The statement said it would be several days before a full prognosis could be given.

The Austrian Alps have been hit by particularly heavy snow this winter and numerous avalanches. Parts of Voralberg were cut off by the snow this week.

The BBC reports several people have been killed across Europe this year in avalanches.

Prince Friso gave up his rights to the Dutch throne in 2004, when he married Mabel Wisse Smit.

The couple have two young daughters, Luana and Zaria.