Argentines among four killed in Japan ski avalanches

TOKYO - Avalanches in and around Japanese ski resorts killed four people over the weekend, including two Argentine men, police and media reported Monday.

The two foreigners, aged 50 and 54, were in the Ryuoo Ski Park in Nagano prefecture some 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of Tokyo on Sunday, police said.

They were together with a man from New Zealand and a man and a woman from Australia, a local police spokeswoman said.

"When they skied off-piste shortly after 2:00 pm Sunday, an avalanche occurred and engulfed the two Argentine men," she said.

"Their friends made an emergency call, and rescuers found their bodies in the snow," she said, adding they were sent to a local hospital where they were confirmed dead.

The avalanche was 30 metres (100 feet) in width and 200 metres long, she said.

Over the weekend two other avalanche-triggered deadly accidents occurred in Niigata prefecture, north of Nagano, local reports said.

A Japanese man, 48, died Saturday after he was hit by an avalanche as he snowboarded, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Another Japanese man, 35, was found dead in an off-piste area of a ski resort in Niigata, with police believing he had also been hit by a snowfall, the paper said.