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2008 avalanches in Europe kill 26 this year

by Staff Writers
Milan, Italy (AFP) Jan 14, 2008
The new year has proved a lethal one in European mountains, where avalanches in Italy, Austria, France and Switzerland have killed 26 people since January 1.

The latest casualties were announced Monday, when Swiss police reported a 44-year-old Dutchman had died from his injuries after being swept away by an avalanche the day before while walking on snow shoes in eastern Switzerland.

Meanwhile, an Italian snow scooter rider died in hospital late Sunday, bringing to four the number killed when an avalanche engulfed a group of 11 riders in northern Italy, local police said.

"They left in bad weather even though we appealed for prudence after an avalanche Saturday. Snow scooters become very dangerous once they are used in bad conditions," said Valerio Zani, vice-president of Italy's alpine rescue service.

Sunday's avalanche in the Brescia region brought to seven the number killed at the weekend in northern Italy.

On Saturday an avalanche in Lombardy killed two 17-year-old snowboarders, while a skier smashed into a tree after being swept away by snow in Trentino.

But two off-piste skiers survived being buried by snow Monday in the Piedmont region, alpine rescue officials said.

"One must never trust fresh snow, especially if one doesn't know the state of what is underneath it," Italian World Cup slaloming champion Denis Karbon told the ANSA news agency.

"I know that after a snowfall people really want to go out, but you must be very careful and if you're not an expert, ski with a guide," she added.

Nor have other parts of Europe been spared from deadly snow slides this year.

Avalanches have killed nine people in Austria -- five Austrians, three Germans and an Italian -- during the first week of January alone.

Meanwhile two French skiers were found dead under a mountain of snow Sunday in southeastern France.

In earlier incidents a Lithuanian skier was killed in the Mont Blanc range, a British snowboarder died off-piste near Tignes and three other skiers were swept away in the Pyrenees.

"This time last year we were at five dead. Now, we're at seven," said Frederic Jarry, a specialist at ANENA, a French agency studying snow and avalanches in the southeastern city of Grenoble.

"Last year was particularly calm because of a lack of snow. This year there is a lot of snow, but in terms of avalanche accidents, (the current toll is) normal."

The casualty in Switzerland was also the third for that country since New Year's Day.

For his part, Italian off-piste ski champion Toni Valeruz had just one piece of advice for those seeking adventure under risky conditions: "Stay at home."

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Over 100,000 die in road and industrial accidents in China in 2007: report
Beijing (AFP) Jan 13, 2008
Industrial and road accidents killed 101,480 people in China last year, a drop of about 10 percent compared to 2006, the state's safety watchdog said in a report seen Sunday.

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