Austrian avalanche kills up to five: police

Vienna: Five people have been killed in an avalanche that buried 17 people from the Czech Republic in Austria's skiing region of Tyrol, police said.

The avalanche, which regional TV station ORF Tirol said was 2 km wide and 5 metres high, came down shortly after midday on Saturday at the Wattener Lizum region, about 40 km southeast of Innsbruck in western Austria.

Search and rescue operations were still under way on Saturday afternoon, and it was unclear how many people were still missing.

Police had said earlier that some people were injured, others unharmed.

The entire skiing region had been on a level three avalanche alert, out of a maximum five, and several avalanches were also reported elsewhere.