Two men found, presumed dead after Japan avalanche

TOKYO (AFP): Two men have been found following an avalanche in Japan and are presumed dead, police said Monday, a day after the off-piste accident in the central region of Nagano.

A search had been underway for two foreign nationals reported missing, and police official Tomohiro Kushibiki told AFP that officers were working to confirm they were the same pair.

Both men were found “in cardio-respiratory arrest”, he said, a term commonly used in Japan before a death can be confirmed by a doctor.

The missing two had been outside the patrolled areas of a ski resort in Otari village along with 11 other skiers and snowboarders when the incident took place on Sunday.

Five people were hit by the avalanche, with the other three able to climb down by themselves, Kishibiki said.

The other members of the group also reportedly made it safely back down the slope.

Last week, a cold snap blanketed much of Japan in heavy snow, including Nagano, which draws many overseas tourists during ski season.

An avalanche warning and snow warning are currently in place for the area.

Mountain Gazette magazine reported that professional American skier Kyle Smaine, 31, had been killed in an avalanche in Nagano on Sunday.

Fans were quick to leave tributes on a video he had posted on Instagram on Sunday showing him skiing off-piste.

“This is what brings me back to Japan each winter. Unbelievable snow quality, non-stop storms, and really fun terrain that seems to get better (the) more exploring you do,” Smaine had written in a comment accompanying the video.