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At least six skiers dead in Italian Alps avalanche

By Daniel Uria   |   March 12, 2016 at 4:17 PM

MONTE NEVOSO, Italy, March 12 (UPI) -- At least six skiers are dead and several others are missing after an avalanche in the Italian Alps.

The avalanche happened on Monte Nevoso near the Austrian border. Eight people were rescued and as many as ten people are possibly buried in the snow.

Five of the dead skiers were believed to be Italian while the sixth was Austrian. Groups in the area canvased the mountain attempting to ensure skiers are safe.

More than a dozen people were believed to have been at least 9,840 feet up the mountain around 11:15 a.m. Saturday when the avalanche occurred.

Some were able to free themselves from the snow but others remained trapped.

"If an avalanche [occurs] up there," local politician Hans Berger told CNN. "whoever is beneath it doesn't have an escape, and can be covered by several meters of snow"

Three rescue helicopters flew over the mountain in search of potential survivors.

"The helicopters are having difficulty safely reaching altitudes above 9,800 feet," head of the rescue operation Rafael Kostner said, according to the Telegraph. "Therefore, they fly with very little fuel and all unnecessary gear is left on the ground."

Trained dogs, as well as firefighters and more than 70 Alpine rescuers continued the search for survivors on the mountain.

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