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Two backcountry skiers killed in Italian Alps

Two backcountry skiers have died in an avalanche in Italy near the Swiss border - while a third skier survived unharmed, rescue workers said.

Spokesman Walter Milan said the three skiers were on a mountain above the village of Lanzada, 150km north east of Milan at about 3000 metres above sea level when they were struck on Friday by an avalanche about 300 metres wide.

They were not at an organised ski area.

One skier escaped unharmed, while the other two, ages 43 and 53, were carried down a jagged, rocky slope. Three helicopters responded to the emergency.

Nearly 30 skiers have been killed in the Italian Alps this season, a significant increase over last year.

Mr Milan said an icy under-layer has elevated the avalanche risk, making even minor accumulations unstable.

AP

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