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At least four skiers died and two others were critically injured as avalanches hit the French and Swiss Alps after heavy snowfalls and relatively mild temperatures, police said Friday.
Near the Swiss resort of St. Moritz an off-piste skier of unidentified nationality was swept away by an avalanche on the slopes of the Piz Nair.
The accident came a day after a 27-year-old Irish cross-country skier, who resided near Zurich, died in an avalanche not far from the town of Realp in central Switzerland.
The search only got under way Friday because of poor weather conditions, police said.
Another avalanche hit a piste at Celerina, near St. Moritz but police said it was not clear whether any skiers were hurt.
In the French Alps a 50-year-old guard of a mountain shelter died when he was swept away by a mass of snow near Courchevel but his son, who was in his company, was safe, police said.
The pair had tried to reach a mountain hut on Grand Plan mountain.
In another incident a teenager was hit by an avalanche in the Serre-Chevalier area, also off piste. He was rushed to a hospital in Grenoble where he died hours later.
Two other skiers were in critical condition after several people were swept away by snow off piste near the towns of La Clusaz and Val-Thorens, police said.
© 2013 AFP
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