Avalanche kills three at Russian Arctic ski resort

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Moscow (AFP)

Three people were killed after an avalanche swept through a ski resort outside the arctic town of Norilsk overnight, Russian investigators said on Saturday.

The investigative committee, which is investigating major crimes, said it was informed at 12:30 a.m. local time (5:30 p.m. GMT) that an avalanche had buried four buildings under snow at the Otdelnaya Gora ski complex in the town of Talnakh, in 25 kilometers (16 miles). north of Norilsk.

Rescuers recovered the bodies of a 38-year-old woman, her 18-month-old child and her 45-year-old husband. A 14-year-old was found alive and hospitalized with frostbite.

The Investigation Committee added that it had opened criminal proceedings for death by negligence as a result of security breaches.

A video released by the Emergency Department showed rescuers overnight shoveling snow from a building piled up on its roof.

On Saturday morning, the branch of the emergency ministry in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, which includes Norilsk, said all missing people had been found and it was ending the search and rescue mission.

Rescue volunteer Maxim Inikhov told reporters that all buildings were unoccupied at the time of the avalanche except one housing the station’s ski lift manager, Vlad Popov, his wife and their two children.

“We have a very strong snowstorm, so there were very few people on vacation today at the ski resort,” Inikhov told Rossiya-24 TV.

Norilsk, Russia’s northernmost city, 2,878 kilometers (1,788 miles) northeast of Moscow, often experiences huge snowstorms, including blizzards last month with wind gusts of up to 27 meters per second.

Avalanche accidents are not uncommon in Russia.

In the spring of 2019, seven climbers died in an avalanche in the Altai Mountains in Siberia.

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