A "very large" avalanche in British Columbia, Canada, has left five snowmobile riders dead.
Barb McLintock of the western province's coroners service said Friday's avalanche happened in an area where several groups were snowmobiling.
Two coroners have been sent from Prince George and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is co-ordinating the search for a number of snowmobilers involved in the avalanche in the Renshaw area east of McBride, about 130 miles south east of Prince George.
A helicopter was dispatched and two search-and-rescue technicians were on the scene.
Emergency crews quickly learned that at least three separate groups of snowmobilers were caught in the avalanche and they helped rescue several people throughout the afternoon and searched for those believed to have been buried, police said.
Karl Klassen of Avalanche Canada said the "very large, significant" avalanche appeared to be human-triggered.
"There are layers of concern in the snowpack in many parts of this region (and others) and a fairly significant weather event added rain and snow to the snowpack over the last few days followed by clearing and cooling today," he said.
"This may have produced stresses in the snowpack capable of producing large avalanches and this condition could take several days to settle and bond."