AP NEWS

Two Alaska snowboarders die in British Columbia avalanche

December 31, 2019 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two Alaska men on a snowboarding trip to British Columbia died when they were caught in an avalanche, according to provincial officials.

The two men and a third friend who survived the avalanche were from nearby Haines, Alaska, and were in their early 20s, Anchorage television station KTVA reported. Their names were not immediately released.

The avalanche occurred Monday in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, according to BC Coroner Service spokesman Andy Watson. The park is between Haines and Haines Junction, Yukon Territory.

Royal Canadian Mountain Police notified the Haines Volunteer Fire Department that they had received a signal from an emergency locator west of Three Guardsman Mountain in the mountain pass between the cities, Canadian Press reported.

Canadian authorities launched a rescue operation that included a helicopter, emergency support and the Haines Junction Search and Rescue team, the fire department said. Rescuers found one person alive and the two others who died.

The B.C. coroner office will investigate to determine how and where the men died.

Christmas week saw storms, snow and strong winds that led to an increase in dangerous conditions for that corner of British Columbia, said James Minifie, lead avalanche technician for Avalanche Canada.

The area where the snowboarders were found is “fairly remote” mountainous terrain and is used for recreation by Canadian and American citizens, he said. High avalanche conditions persist in the area, Minifie said, and users should have an emergency plan and carry satellite-enabled communication.

Canadian authorities are making arrangements to transport the bodies back to the United States, according to the fire department.