TOKYO (AFP) – Two men have been confirmed dead after their bodies were recovered following an avalanche in Japan, police said on Monday, a day after the off-piste accident in the central region of Nagano.
Japanese authorities declined to identify the pair, but United States ski magazine Mountain Gazette reported that one of the dead was American professional skier Kyle Smaine. Two men who were travelling with Smaine posted Instagram updates saying he had been killed in the avalanche.
Emergency rescue teams “confirmed the death of the two men”, a local police spokesman told AFP.
Their identities or nationalities would be released after thorough ID checks, he added. The missing two had been outside the patrolled areas of a ski resort in Otari village along with several other skiers and snowboarders when the avalanche took place on Sunday.
The others were able to return down the mountain, but two foreign nationals were still missing by Sunday night. According to Mountain Gazette, Smaine, 31, had been with fellow professional skier Adam U and the publication’s senior photographer Grant Gunderson when he was killed.
He said an avalanche had been triggered by a skier, and Smaine “was thrown 50 metres by the air blast and buried and killed”.