Seven die in massive Alps snowfall from Germany to Italy

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Cars stuck near Untertauern, 7 Jan 19Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Tourists struggled in heavy snow near Untertauern in Austria

At least seven people have died in the Alps during a weekend of heavy snow, with skiers facing a high avalanche risk in Austria, Germany and Italy.

Two separate avalanches killed two German skiers in Austria's Vorarlberg mountains. A third skier died in Pongau district, near Salzburg.

In Bavaria, a skier died when a tree collapsed near Bad Tölz. An avalanche killed a young woman in Bavaria's Teisenberg mountains.

Two climbers died in the Italian Alps.

A mountain rescue team found their bodies in the area of 2,800m (9,186ft) Mt Cristalliera, in the Alps north of Turin.

Rescuers are searching for several missing people elsewhere in the Alps.

The second-highest avalanche warning level is now in force across the Austrian Tyrol and in much of the Bavarian Alps.

Skiers have been warned to avoid any off-piste skiing, and many mountain roads have been closed because of the avalanche risk.

Italy is in the grip of a cold snap - snow has even reached Matera, in the far south. There is also snow on Mt Vesuvius near Naples - a rare sight.

Image source, EPA
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Italy's cold snap: Snow lies on Mt Vesuvius near Naples

The heavy snow has forced many schools to close temporarily across Bavaria, and has disrupted some train services there.

More heavy snow is expected in the coming days - as much as 120cm (4ft) of fresh snow in Austria by Thursday.

Image source, Reuters
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A thick blanket of snow in Knoppen, just east of Salzburg in Austria
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Warngau in Bavaria lies just south of Munich