2 men rescued, 1 believed dead after avalanche hits Idaho back country

Avalanche warning flag
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MULLAN, Idaho (AP) — Two men were rescued after being caught in an avalanche in the Idaho backcountry, while a third man was believed to be dead, authorities said.

A rescue effort began shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday when law enforcement received a GPS alert of a possible fatality in an avalanche near Stevens Peak close to the Montana border, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on social media.

A search and rescue effort began with assistance from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Air Force.

Authorities established communications using a GPS texting device with two men caught in the avalanche. Following a search of the area, the pair were located and transported for medical care, the sheriff’s office said.

A discussion with the men led authorites to believe a third man had perished at the avalanche site, the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities called off the search Thursday night and planned to resume looking for the deceased man on Friday, the sheriff’s office said.

The identities of the three men were not immediately released.

Authorities did not say what the three people were doing in the area, which is several miles southwest of the Lookout Peak ski area and more than 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Missoula, Montana.

The area had been under an avalanche danger warning for several days because of snowfall and blowing winds that have created unstable conditions on high, steep slopes.

The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center warned that avalanches triggered by human activity “remain likely” on steeper terrain.

The avalanche came a day after the first U.S. avalanche death of the season was reported in California. An avalanche roared through a section of expert trails at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort near Lake Tahoe on Wednesday morning, trapping four people and killing one.

A second avalanche struck the same area near Lake Tahoe on Thursday but there were no reported casualties.

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