A large-scale search operation, triggered by an avalanche near Seekarspitze in the Obertauern region of Salzburg, was called off on Sunday afternoon. The incident, which occurred around 12:30 p.m. in the southern slopes of the 2,217-meter-high Seekareck, prompted an immediate response from rescue teams.
According to initial witness reports, four variant drivers entered the avalanche-prone area in Obertauern region, but only two safely exited the cone. Concerns were raised, leading to a comprehensive search effort involving 22 mountain rescuers from Obertauern and Radstadt, three mountain rescue dog teams, and three helicopter teams with Alpine police.
A rapid deployment saw a section of the team, equipped with search dogs, airlifted to the avalanche cone at approximately 1,900 meters. Helicopters circled above, employing specialized scanning techniques to detect signals from potential buried victims. Additionally, one area was meticulously probed with poles in the search for any signs of the missing individuals.
The challenging terrain complicated the search, with the avalanche cone measuring approximately 150 meters in length and featuring a break-off edge of around 90 centimeters. The presence of numerous ski tracks in the avalanche exit area further heightened the complexity of the operation. The spot, known for its popularity among tourers, added an additional layer of difficulty for the rescuers.
Mountain rescue spokeswoman Maria Riedler described the situation as “very unclear” during the early stages of the operation. The uncertainty was exacerbated by the challenging topography, but rescue teams persisted in their efforts to locate the missing individuals.
Despite the intensity of the search, no confirmation of missing persons was received. Riedler noted that a missing person report had been filed, but it ultimately yielded no results. “Therefore, the operation was canceled at around 3 p.m.,” stated operations manager Michael Koch in a press release.
The decision to conclude the search was made after careful consideration of the lack of concrete evidence and the absence of any buried individuals. The safety of the rescue teams, coupled with the diminishing daylight, played a crucial role in the decision-making process.
The Seekarspitze avalanche incident serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of mountainous terrains, emphasizing the importance of caution and preparedness, especially in popular touring spots. While the immediate crisis has concluded without further incident, authorities remain vigilant, urging outdoor enthusiasts to prioritize safety and adhere to guidelines when venturing into alpine environments.
As the sun set on the Seekarspitze area, the search operation concluded, leaving rescuers and locals hopeful for a continued safe winter season in the breathtaking landscapes of Salzburg.