Two Spanish nationals were killed in an avalanche near Lake Louise, Alberta, in Canada on Saturday.
The group of five, who had been working in Canada and are all believed to be in their twenties, were snowshoeing near Lake Louise.
One man and his girlfriend were completely caught in the avalanche. The three remaining members of the group, two men and one woman, were buried in waist deep snow.
After successfully removing themselves from the snow, the three attempted to find and free their friends while phoning for help. The group did not have avalanche equipment.
Sources say the deceased man had been working in Calgary while his girlfriend had been employed in Edmonton.
Parks Canada crews arrived at the scene nearly 50 minutes after the phone call. The rescue crew located the body of the first missing member of the group quickly but extra resources were called in to locate the final member of the group.
Search and Rescue crews evacuated the three surviving members of the group and shortly before night fall, a search dog located the remaining body.
Lisa Paulson, Parks Canada Visitor safety specialist, said the Spaniards were traversing an area near the bottom of a steep slope on Lake Agnes, approximately six kilometres from Lake Louise, when they triggered an avalanche at approximately 3:00 p.m. Saturday.
Brian Webster, Parks Canada representative said: “These people didn’t have avalanche safety gear, they didn’t have avalanche beacons and there was no way to find them using avalanche transceivers.”
After the first avalanche, for safety reasons, officials triggered two additional avalanches in the region.
Webster said: “Rescuers thought it was unsafe to put rescuers onto the accident site without doing some avalanche control first so they used explosives and they triggered two subsequent avalanches.
“At that point they felt the accident site was safe and they put rescue crews onto the accident site.”
Recent snow and rising temperatures have resulted in an increase in the risk of avalanches in the area. Parks Canada strongly recommends caution and avoiding travel through avalanche terrain.