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Skier survives 17 hours being buried alive

SION, Switzerland, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A Swiss man is alive despite spending 17 hours under piles of snow in the wake of an avalanche near Evolene, Switzerland, police say.

Sky News said Monday the man was hospitalized with hypothermia after Sunday's rescue, which a police spokesman labeled a "miracle" based on the time between the avalanche and the discovery of the skier.

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"Everyone agrees that 17 hours with one's face buried in the snow is quite extraordinary. It is, according to commonly used terminology, a miracle," police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet said.

The man, whose identity and age were not released, was reported missing by his family Saturday and signs of his whereabouts were first discovered during helicopter searches.

Bornet told Sky News the man, who apparently survived by staying inside a small air pocket beneath the snow, was skiing outside marked areas when the avalanche occurred.

"He left the marked runs alone, without a detector. His parents alerted us in the afternoon but by then he had already been under the avalanche for at least two hours," Bornet said.

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