Massive Avalanche Hits German Hotel; 26 Killed in European Winter Storms

Drew MacFarlane
Published: January 14, 2019

A massive avalanche plowed into a hotel in southern Germany Sunday as heavy snowfall continued to pound Central Europe, killing 26 people in this month alone.

While the hotel itself was damaged, no injuries to the hotel's 100 guests were reported, according to the Associated Press.

The hotel evacuated their occupants to other areas of the village of Balderschwang. Some 1,100 people in the village were unable to leave with an avalanche risk along roads leading out of Balderschwang.

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The latest fatalities include three German skiers who were killed Saturday when an avalanche buried them in in Vorarlberg, Austria's westernmost province. A fourth person in the group is still missing.

Two ski patrollers were killed Sunday morning in Morillon, France, when the when the devices they use to trigger avalanches exploded.

Several people were injured Thursday after an avalanche triggered by heavy snow accumulation from a series of European storms struck a hotel in northeastern Switzerland.

Three people were taken to hospital with minor injuries after a reported 900-foot-wide avalanche hit a hotel in Schwaegalp, about 60 miles southeast from Zurich.

About 100 tourists were evacuated from the site by Friday morning, swissinfo.ch reported.

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Other deaths include a 7-year-old child killed by a tree that fell under the weight of heavy snow in Germany, a 16-year-old Australian boy killed by an avalanche Wednesday while skiing with his family in Austria and a 37-year-old man killed in Slovakia by an avalanche in the Mala Fatra mountains.

Earlier in the week, a 62-year-old teacher was killed while skiing in Austria when he fell and became buried in a snowbank.

Romanian police say they found the frozen body of a 67-year-old man in a carpark Tuesday in the city Slatina after he was reported missing last Monday.

A 28-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman who went missing while snowshoeing were found dead near Salzburg in central Austria. Rescuers are still searching for two others who went missing while snowshoeing near Hohenberg, in Lower Austria, the AP reported.

Three skiers were killed by avalanches in Austria and a woman who was buried by an avalanche last week in Switzerland died of her injuries on Jan. 6.

A young Swedish woman and three Finnish skiers were killed in Norway after a large avalanche hit near the Norwegian city of Tromsø.

Two other people were killed in weather-related incidents, including a 44-year-old man who was hit by tree branches that came down under the weight of the snow in Wackersberg, Bavaria, Germany, and a young woman killed in an avalanche in Bavaria's Teisenberg mountains.

The storms have trapped motorists in their vehicles in Germany and stranded residents and tourists in Austrian alpine villages cut off by blocked roadways.

More than 100 people were evacuated Jan. 2 on Norway's Arctic Svalbard islands as a precaution because of an approaching storm and the risk of avalanches, the AP also said.

On Jan. 1, 11 German hikers were rescued by mountaineers from a cabin near Salzburg, Austria, after having been snowed in without electricity and food since Friday.

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About 600 residents and tourists were cut off in villages in the Styria region of Austria when roadways became impassable. Other villages in the Alps have also been cut off by snow-blocked roads.

Travel in the region has been crippled by the heavy snowfall, with numerous train connections halted and hundreds of flights canceled.

Numerous roadways, including major highways, are closed because of the treacherous conditions. Crashes have been reported in numerous locales throughout Europe as a result of the storm.

Some ski resorts have reported up to 7 feet of snow in higher elevations, forcing some resorts to close.


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