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Two Spanish skiers killed in Pyrenean avalanche

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Toulouse (France) (AFP)

Two Spanish skiers were killed Saturday when an avalanche hit a group skiing off-piste on a mountain in southwestern France, rescue services said.

The three other members of the group managed to raise the alarm after their companions went missing just before midday (1100 GMT).

About 20 gendarme rescuers were deployed along with dogs and two helicopters, the authorities said.

Rescue workers found one man dead in the snow while the other was discovered alive by a rescue dog but died later in a Toulouse hospital.

On Friday, four skiers were killed in the Mercantour National park in the French Alps, the deadliest avalanche of the winter so far.

Their guide was detained by police for potentially putting the group at risk.

France has seen heavy snowfalls since the start of the week, as a blast of icy weather from Siberia engulfed Europe before warmer weather swept in from the south from Thursday.

More than 20 people have now died since France's ski season began in November.

On February 15 an avalanche in the Pyrenees mountains killed three skiers.

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