A European holiday has ended in tragedy for an Australian family after a teenage boy was killed by an avalanche while skiing in Austria.
Local police have confirmed an Australian boy, 16, was buried alive and died in front of his horrified family at the ski village of St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday.
Police said the boy was skiing with his father, 58, mother, 55, and younger brother, 14, in the late afternoon when they became stuck in very steep terrain and called for help.
The 16-year-old was a student at Sydney’s International Grammar School.
The family was hit by an avalanche as they waited for rescuers to arrive.
‘This covered the mother and also the 16-year-old son. The woman was able to free herself from the snow an remained unhurt,’ the police statement read.
‘The avalanche came to a standstill at the bottom of the valley and had a thickness of up to four metres. The 16-year-old son was completely buried by the snow masses.’
Rescuers retrieved the boy’s body in two metres of snow 20 minutes after arriving and were unable to revive him.
The teenager’s German father and younger brother were uninjured in the avalanche.
International Grammar School principal Shauna Colnan sent out an email to students on Thursday night,
‘It is with deep sadness that I write to inform you that one of our students has died in an avalanche while skiing with his family,’ she said.
‘The school will be open tomorrow and next week, and senior staff, counsellors and I will be there to assist should you require support.’
An autopsy will determine the exact cause of death, which is still the subject of ongoing police investigations.
At least 15 people have died in the European snow chaos that has caused havoc across the continent in recent days.
The highest red warnings are in place in Germany and Austria with more heavy snow expected to fall in the coming days.