UPDATE: Avalanche in northwestern B.C. kills two men snowboarding in provincial park

FILE PHOTO
Image Credit: Avalanche Canada

VICTORIA - Two men from Haines, Alaska, have been killed in an avalanche in northwestern British Columbia's Tatshenshini-Alsek Park.

The BC Coroners Service says the men, who were in their early 20s, were with a third man snowboarding in the area when the avalanche hit Monday afternoon.

A statement from the Haines Volunteer Fire Department says it was notified Monday that the RCMP had received a signal from an emergency locator west of the Three Guardsmen Mountain in the Haines Pass area.

It says Canadian authorities immediately co-ordinated a rescue operation, and emergency support and a helicopter were sent to the scene.

"The skiing party involved consisted of three individuals, all friends from Haines," the statement says.

Shortly after arriving on the scene, the Canadian authorities reported they had one person alive and in their care and two others who were deceased, the statement says.

The B.C. coroner says it is investigating to determine how, where and by what means the men died.

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

He says the area where the snowboarders were found is "fairly remote" mountainous terrain and is used for recreation by both Canadian and American citizens.

Minifie says high avalanche conditions persist in the area and people need to be aware of the dangers before going into the back country.

He says they need to have satellite-enabled communication and an emergency plan.

The fire department's statement says the Canadian authorities are making arrangements to transport the deceased back to the United States.

"Our prayers are with all members of their families and our hearts are broken in their loss."

The park is known for its river systems and has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2019.


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