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Avalanche kills six skiers in Italian Alps

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a section of the Alps. (AFP)

Six skiers have died in an avalanche in the Italian Alps near the Austrian border.

"Rescue operations are ongoing. The assessment is incomplete," said Italy's alpine rescue service, according to the AGI news agency.

Several other climbers were injured in the incident, the source said.

The avalanche happened at more than 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) on Monte Nevoso in South Tyrol.

A huge flow of snow engulfed a group of about a dozen mountaineers who were close to the top of Monte Nevoso, also known as the Schneebiger Nock.

Three helicopters were dispatched to the area but the high altitude meant that the aircraft were forced to fly with minimal fuel to reduce their airborne weight, hampering the rescue operation.

One helicopter brought in a canine unit to the scene to search for survivors, Italy’s state news agency Ansa said.

Monte Nevoso, in the Aurina valley of Italy's northeast, reaches a height of 3,358 meters.

The avalanche risk in the Italian Alps this weekend was assessed to be reasonably low, just two out of five. Level five indicates a strong risk of avalanche.

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