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An avalanche, sometimes called a snowslide,is the rapid flow ofsnow, ice and/or rockdown a slopeor mountain.Theycan be triggered by natural forces such as precipitation, earthquakesor the weakening of snowpack (layers of slow that accumulate in areas of high elevation and cold temperatures). They can also be caused by human activity when someone walks or rides over a weak area of snow. Slab avalanches—when a large slabof stronger ice or snow dislodges from ontop of a weaker snow layer—are the most dangerous. Avalanches can obstruct everything in their path, destroy entire buildings and lead to serious injury and death.

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Norway: Red Cross mountain rescue team retrieves bodies of avalanche victims

By Roar Dalmo Moltubak, Norwegian Red Cross The leader of a Norwegian Red Cross avalanche rescue team has told of the heroic efforts she and her team went to, in retrieving the bodies of three skiers killed in an avalanche last month. The team of 35 managed to recover three of the four people killed in the Tamokdalen avalanche in Troms county, several weeks after the 2 January accident. Julia Fieler, head of the avalanche team and volunteer at Troms branch, says temperatures were 26 degrees below zero, with wind and bad weather. “The work required a lot from everyone who participated.Small windows of good weather meant that the crews were prepared not to be able to travel down before the evening came.” “We had a backup with a view to sleeping up there.We were prepared to spend the night in the mountains,” says Fieler. Working alongside several other rescue organizations, the team used signals from the skiers’ avalanche alarms to find them and dig them out. However, they were only able to find three people before police decided to suspend the search until spring due to the avalanche danger. “We think a lot about the families of the victims - that they get their loved ones home is the biggest driving force for us," says Fieler.“I am proud of the cohesion and the efforts of the avalanche team in Troms.”

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