Dutch prince buried by avalanche
A Dutch prince is seriously ill in intensive care after being buried in an avalanche when he skied off piste in an Austrian ski resort.
Prince Johan Friso, second son of Queen Beatrix, was being treated in an Innsbruck hospital. There were conflicting reports on his exact condition. A Dutch government statement said he was stable but "his life remains at risk."
But Stefan Jochum, a spokesman for the Lech ski area where the accident occurred, said his condition was serious but his life was no longer in danger.
Jochum said the accident happened as the prince and other skiers were on slopes away from the marked Lech ski runs and laden with snow after weeks of record falls. "A snow slide came down and the prince was buried as the only member of the group," said Jochum.
A rescue helicopter was on the scene within minutes and after Friso was located, he was given emergency aid on the scene and flown to the hospital.
He could not confirm a news report that the prince had been buried for 15 minutes before he was found and said he had no information on the nature of his injuries.
Friso, 43, was in Lech with other members of the royal family. The second of Beatrix's three sons, he gave up any claim to the Dutch throne to marry Dutch commoner Mabel Wisse Smit, in 2004. The pair have two daughters. He most recently worked as financial director at Urenco, the European uranium-enrichment consortium.
After the pair announced their intention to marry in 2003, Dutch media revealed that Wisse Smit's previous friendships included contacts while she was in college with a well-known figure in the Dutch underworld, a drug dealer who was later killed.
The couple publicly acknowledged having been "naive and incomplete" during her vetting process before joining the royal family. Then-Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende signalled he could not recommend the marriage to parliament for approval.
They married anyway, a decision that meant Friso's removal from the line of succession. The couple are still part of Beatrix's family and attend important royal functions. Mabel has been granted the title Princess Mabel and Friso has an array of noble titles, including Prince of Oranje-Nassau - but not Prince of the Netherlands.