2 skiers caught in avalanche in Japan confirmed dead

Tokyo: Two male skiers who went missing after being caught in the mountains of Japan’s Nagano prefecture over the weekend have been confirmed dead, local media reported.

Japanese police have yet to make public the identities of the two deceased skiers, Kyodo News said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the US Freeski team said on social media that Kyle Smaine, a 31-year-old professional freestyle skier based in Lake Tahoe, California, was one of the men killed in the accident in Japan, quoting his family. Smaine won freestyle skiing halfpipe gold medal at the 2015 world championships, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The avalanche occurred on Sunday afternoon when 13 foreign nationals in three groups were skiing in the backcountry area outside the course of Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort in the village of Otari.

The missing pair were found by a search and rescue team the following day but were showing no vital signs.

An avalanche advisory had been issued for the area after a cold snap brought heavy snow across much of Japan last week, including Nagano.

Nagano prefecture, host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, has been a popular destination featured by high-quality powder snow for foreign tourists, especially those interested in skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry, or outside the boundaries of patrolled areas.


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