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At around 11:30 In the morning of Wednesday 28th January a party of four walkers was hit by an avalanche near the Japanese ski resort Niseko Alpen in Hokkaido. One of the people managed to escape to the side and the avalanche was also seen by a snow-boarder who raised the alarm.
A rescue party of fifty people searched the debris using poles and the three victims (two men and a women) were found after an hour at depths of 2-3 meters. They were helicoptered to hospital were the women died shortly afterwards.
The avalanche started one kilometer up the valley (400m vertical) when a 1m thick slab fractured on a 35 degree slope. The avalanche descended cliffs and then ran for 700m along the 7 degree valley and was roughly 30m wide where it hit the walkers. Numerous small avalanches were triggered from the side of the valley and joined the main flow.
Dr. Jim McElwaine Institute of Low Temperature Science Hokkaido University Sapporo Japan
Date = 28/1/98br Time = 11:30br Location = Haru no taki, Niseko, Hokkaido, Japanbr Elevation = 1800br Incline = 35br Type = Slabbr Width = 100mbr Thickness = 1mbr Water = Drybr Activity = walkingbr Party Size = 4br People Caught = 3br Complete Burials = 3br Injured = 2br Fatalities = 1br