VIENNA : Five skiers from the Czech Republic were killed on Saturday in an avalanche in the Austrian alps that also engulfed 12 other people, police said.

Authorities gave no immediate details on the condition of the other casualties in the incident, which occurred around midday in a valley south of Innsbruck in western Austria. Saturday also saw a number of other avalanches - the result of instability caused by recent snowfall and a slight thaw - in which skiers had to be rescued in Austria’s Tyrol state, famed for its ski resorts and winter sports.

The deaths follow a string of deadly snowslides in the French Alps this season. In the most recent, five soldiers from the French Foreign Legion died near the resort of Valfrejus on January 18 with a sixth dying days later in hospital.

Two French teenage students and a Ukrainian tourist were also killed on January 14 when a teacher took the students onto a closed skiing piste at the Deux-Alpes resort. Seriously injured himself, he was later charged with involuntary manslaughter.