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2 backcountry skiers from New Zealand are killed in an avalanche in Japan

This aerial photo shows Mt. Yotei where an avalanche hit a group of backcountry skiers, in Kutchan, Hokkaido, on March 11, 2024. Two backcountry skiers have died in a mountain avalanche on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, according to news reports. (Kyodo News via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

TOKYO (AP) — Two backcountry skiers from New Zealand have died in an avalanche on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, police said Tuesday.

A man and woman died Monday on the 1,898-meter (6,227-foot) Mount Yotei, the Hokkaido prefectural police said. A third skier, a man also from New Zealand, survived with a shoulder injury, Kyodo News said.

All three were residents in the area and worked as a tour guide and seasonal workers, police said.

They were reportedly part of a group of six backcountry skiers.

Kyodo News agency said a separate group of four backcountry skiers was also hit by an avalanche at a nearby mountain, with one suffering a leg injury.

There was no heavy snow or avalanche advisories issued in the area at that time, Kyodo said.