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Five snowboarders killed in US avalanche
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (AFP) April 21, 2013

Brown bears in Russia's Far East begin awakening from hibernation
Vladivostok, Russia (UPI) Apr 19, 2013 - Brown bears in the Russian region of Kamchatka, said to be some of the world's largest examples of the species, are coming out of hibernation, officials say.

Some bears are already awake in the area of the Kronotsky nature reserve known as Geyser Valley where the first grass has begun to appear as ground is warmed by the geysers, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

"The animals are savoring the rare greenery," officials of the nature reserve said in a statement.

The brown bears of the Kamchatka Peninsula are the world's largest group living in an officially protected area, numbering around 1,700.

Mid-April is the normal time for Kamchatka's bears to start waking up and coming out of their lairs, but they will not be all that hungry yet as they still have up to two-thirds of the fat reserves gained over the last spring and summer, the nature reserve's statement said.

Five snowboarders were killed Saturday when they were swept away in an avalanche in the Rocky mountains near the western city of Denver, local officials said.

In the early afternoon a group of six snowboarders ventured into a backcountry skiing area known as Loveland Pass, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Denver outside the boundaries of the Loveland Ski Area, where they were struck by a wall of snow.

"I can confirm that five snowboarders have been found dead at Loveland Pass," an official at the Clear Creek County's sheriff's office told AFP.

The sixth snowboarder was rescued after calling for help.

The site of the accident is some 3,600 meters above sea level.

Another snowboarder was killed Thursday in an avalanche in the same region.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center warned Saturday that there was a considerable risk of an avalanche in the area the snowboarders visited, urging extreme caution.

Snow and icy winds cut short Swiss spring
Geneva (AFP) April 20, 2013 - Unseasonal snow, icy rain and strong winds caused disruptions across Switzerland Saturday, delaying flights in Zurich, blocking roads and railway lines in some regions and leaving others without power.

After a week of summer heat, winter came roaring back with a vengeance Saturday, with the mercury plunging by around 20 degrees Celsius across the country since Thursday.

"It's a quite dramatic drop," Nicolas Borgognon of MeteoNews told AFP, adding that large temperature swings were however not altogether exceptional in spring.

Nearly a metre of snow blanketed some parts of the Alps and while the bad weather also reached the Swiss plains and the country's largest city Zurich.

The snow caused many flight delays from Zurich airport Saturday morning, airport spokesman Samuel Heinz told AFP. Flights were in the main running on time by early afternoon.

A number of roads were blocked in the southeastern canton of Grison while snow clogged two highways in Ticino in the south, which were blocked off to lorries, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

A number of mountain railway lines were also closed due to a heightened risk of avalanches, while heavy rains led to several mudslides.

Three cantons were reportedly hit by brief power outages.

Geneva, where many people had earlier this week eagerly donned shorts and sandals, was meanwhile being whipped by icy winds of up to 70 kilometres per hour (43.5 miles per hour), Borgognon said, adding that the nearby Jura mountains were facing winds of over 100 kilometres per hour.


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Four skiers die in French Alps avalanches
Grenoble, France (AFP) April 14, 2013
Four cross-country skiers died in avalanches in the French Alps on the weekend, officials said as they warned of snow melting under springtime sun creating a heightened danger. A 60-year-old man died on Saturday in the Haut-Alpes region. The three others - part of a group of five Frenchmen being guided up the Vanoise Mountain - died Sunday in the Savoie region. Their companion and the ... read more

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