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Crews Searching for 2 Skiers After Avalanche in Utah

U.S.Crews Searching for 2 Skiers After Avalanche in Utah

Three skiers who had been skiing for hours through the backcountry near Lone Peak in Utah on Thursday were engulfed by an avalanche that ultimately killed two of them, the authorities said.

One person survived and was rescued by helicopter, while search-and-rescue crews looked for the two others after the avalanche was reported near the peak, southeast of Salt Lake City, Sgt. Aymee Race of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said.

The two skiers were found dead in the afternoon by search-and-rescue crews, Sheriff Rosie Rivera of Salt Lake County said at a news conference. The names of the skiers were not released, but Sheriff Rivera said they were both men, one a 23-year-old and the other 32. One of the skiers was from the Salt Lake City area and the other was from out of state.

Rain and windy weather made it too difficult to recover their bodies on Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Rivera said, adding that crews would return on Friday to make another attempt to retrieve them.

“We hope that the weather settles down so we can make the recovery,” she said.

The skiers, who were friends, were believed to have been skiing for about five hours before the avalanche occurred, Sheriff Rivera said.

Search-and-rescue teams were dispatched at about 10:15 a.m., Sergeant Race said. Teams from several agencies responded and rushed to search for the skiers, Sergeant Race said.

The rescued skier was taken to a hospital, the Police Department said. The skier’s condition was not available.

The avalanche had been reported in the backcountry, said Benjamin Porter, a spokesman with the Unified Fire Authority.

Greg Gagne, an avalanche forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center, said that skiing in the backcountry area of a mountain can be dangerous because avalanche danger is not managed there as it is at a ski resort.

“When you’re in the backcountry, you’re on your own,” Mr. Gagne said. “If there’s snow, an avalanche is possible.”

It was unclear how much snow had recently fallen on Lone Peak.

Some areas nearby had recorded up to two feet of new snowfall over the past week, with most of it falling over the weekend, said Christine Kruse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

Most avalanches occur from December through April, when snowfall amounts are normally higher, but they can happen at any time of the year, including in the spring, when fresh or melting snow can create problems, according to the United States Forest Service. In March, 14 people were caught in avalanches in Utah, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.


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