Skier is buried alive for five hours under 16ft of snow in Austrian avalanche before being rescued alive in ‘Christmas miracle’
- 26-year-old man was skiing the slopes of a mountain 50 miles from Salzburg
- Rescuers said he survived because a large pocket of air was in front of his face
- Discovered when rescuers located the signal from his avalanche transceiver
- He is being treated for hypothermia but wasn’t injured any further, reports said
An Austrian skier entombed under 16ft of snow for five hours in an avalanche has been dragged out alive.
Members of the Gröbming mountain rescue team called his survival on Tuesday a ‘Christmas miracle’.
The 26-year-old man, who is yet to be identified, had hit the slopes on the eastern face of the Pletschnitzzinken, around 50 miles southeast of Salzburg, on Christmas Day.
The snow beneath his feet gave way and he disappeared under it, according to his unnamed skiing companion.
He tried to call him on his mobile phone but heard nothing save the ‘crunching’ sound of snow.
The Gröbming avalanche rescue team can be seen digging the trapped skier from the snow on the Pletschnitzzinken in the Alps on Christmas Day
Pictured: The Gröbming avalanche rescue team during the rescue on Tuesday. The unidentified man, 26, has hypothermia but no other injuries have been reported
Pictured: The Gröbming avalanche rescue team during the rescue on Tuesday. According to the man’s skiing partner, the snow gave way under him. The trapped skiier was found using an avalanche transceiver, a device that emits a low-power pulse radio signal
The companion contacted mountain rescuers, dogs and police officers from the nearby village of Gröbming, who searched the mountain for over two hours before locating the trapped skier.
The man was equipped with an avalanche transceiver, a device that emits a low-power pulse radio signal, which helped emergency services to locate him.
The device is widely carried by cross-country skiers to reduce the amount of time they’ll be trapped in the event of an avalanche.
Once rescued, he was moved on a snowcat down the mountain to a ski lodge in the valley. He was then moved to hospital in Schladming, about ten miles away.
He is being treated for hypothermia but there were no further injuries, according to the BBC.
The Gröbming avalanche rescue team can be seen hoisting the Austrian man from the hole he was trapped in on Tuesday
A member of the Styria mountain rescue service told Austrian public broadcaster ORF: ‘The man was extremely lucky he had a big enough air pocket under the blanket of snow, so he had oxygen too and was able to breathe.’
According to one of the rescuers, the man’s survival is incredibly rare and usually one would only have 15 minutes before their oxygen ran out.
People die during avalanches most years in Austria with Christmas being a particularly dangerous time. This season has seen heavy snowfall over the central and southern Alps, adding to the risk.
Skiers were warned on Christmas Day to avoid the Styrian slopes by the Avalanche Warning Service.