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One dead, several injured after avalanches in B.C. backcountry

One person is dead and four others have been injured following two avalanches in British Columbia's backcountry.

Coroner Barb McLintock said the fatality occurred Friday afternoon near Sparwood in southeast B.C. close to the Alberta border.

"Our understanding is there's one dead...," said Ms. McLintock.

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There were unconfirmed media reports the victims were on snowmobiles.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre issued a warning Friday that the backcountry avalanche risk was high due to weak layers in the snowpack.

Ms. McLintock told The Canadian Press that search-and-rescue officials received a satellite phone call from a group of people in a remote area about 30 kilometres southeast of Sparwood, where cellphone coverage is non existent.

She said a coroner was dispatched to the scene just after 2 p.m..

Ben Mittelsteadt, a spokesman for the BC Ambulance Service, said paramedics had taken three people to hospital with minor injuries.

Dangerous weather conditions forced paramedics to wait until Saturday morning to airlift two others from nearby Fernie, he said.

The pair — who are in stable condition — were airlifted to hospital just before 7 a.m. local time then transferred to another facility in Cranbrook, about 90 kilometres west, he said.

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Friday's fatality is the second avalanche-related death in B.C. this week.

A 44-year-old man from Squamish died Tuesday after he and four other snowmobilers got caught in a snowslide near Whistler.

B.C.'s avalanche warning is in effect until Sunday and covers the mountains of the Inland South Coast, the Columbia Mountains from Prince George to the U.S. border, and B.C.'s southern Rockies.

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