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Snowboarder survives 20 minutes under the snow

A 50-year-old snowboarder was buried under an avalanche when skiing in the wild at Niedere bei Andelsbuch (Bregenzerwald), Vorarlberg. He was rescued uninjured after 20 minutes under the snow.

According to Christoph Garitter from the alpine police, the man was skiing with three other men in the ski area. They wanted to ski under the chairlift off piste into the valley. As they stopped for a rest, the three skiers realized that one of them was missing.

The remaining three then skied on to the middle station in order to travel in the direction of the mountain with the chairlift. Halfway up, they jumped from the chairlift where they guessed that their friend was and began to look for him. This was unsuccessful, so they travelled to the middle station in order to jump one more time from the chairlift.

They then informed mountain rescue and began a further attempt to find their friend. This time, they used an avalanche transceiver, which was successful.

The skiers discovered the hand of the missing man, which stood out of the snow. He was buried face down roughly one metre under the snow, but was responsive as soon as he was dug out.

The police helicopter "Libelle" was called, but could not land due to the bad weather and the strong snowfall. The snowboarder was taken by mountain rescue down to the valley.

A doctor’s examination confirmed that the man was under the snow for 20 minutes and had light hypothermia, but no serious injuries.  The police said that the man was the last of the group and dislodged a snow ledge of approximately 20 metres by 60 metres on the 35 degree slope, and was covered by this.

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