Woman buried in avalanche dies

Last updated 07:36 15/04/2013

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A woman who was buried in 1.5 metres of snow has died, and one man is still missing after a pair of spring avalanches struck separate groups hiking in the mountains east of Seattle, authorities in Washington state say.

Sergeant Katie Larson, with the King County Sheriff's Office, said a team of rescuers worked through the night in blizzard-like conditions to carry the female snowshoer off the mountain just after midnight.

She was not moving and had been in and out of consciousness. Medics confirmed that she had died when they reached the base of the mountain, Larson said.

"The conditions yesterday were horrific," Larson said Sunday. "It took 25 rescuers about five to six hours" to bring her off the mountain in a sled.

The woman, whose identity was not known, had been hiking with her dog near a group of a dozen other people on Saturday afternoon (local time) when an avalanche hit Red Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass.

She had been buried 1.5m of snow but was dug out with the help of a group of a dozen snowshoers, who had also been caught in the avalanche.

Members of the group told authorities that it took them 45 minutes to find the woman. They dug her out of five feet of snow. "They did their best to try to warm her up," Larson said.

Meanwhile, the search for a 60-year-old hiker who was swept down the mountain in a separate avalanche at Granite Mountain Saturday was suspended indefinitely due to the poor weather conditions.

"There was a heavy snow dump last night, and conditions are still very hazardous," Larson said.

The man, from Kent, Washington state, was with two other friends when the avalanche carried them more than 365m down the mountain. The two friends suffered injuries that were described as not life-threatening. One of them was taken to a hospital, but Larson did not know his condition.

The avalanches occurred as heavy snow fell near Snoqualmie Pass.

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- Reuters

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