The 26-year-old man was found by a rescue team in Austria after they picked up signals from a transceiver he was wearing

    A skier has defied odds to survive five hours buried under an avalanche in Austria in what is being dubbed a Christmas 'miracle'.

    The 26-year-old, who has not been named, was dug out of the snow by a team of rescuers after they picked up signals from a transceiver he was wearing.

    Police were first alerted to his disappearance at 5pm local time on Christmas Day after three avalanches swept the area, as well as the Swiss resort of Andermatt.

    A man, who had phoned police to report the skier had gone missing, got through to his phone, but only heard "crackling noises" on the line.

    The skier was located around two hours later thanks to electromagnetic signals being transmitted from his transciever.

    A huge rescue team then began the operation to try and get him out.

    The skier was suffering from hypothermia but was otherwise unharmed.

    Mountain rescuers pulling the man out from under the snow
    (Image: BERGRETTUNG GROEBMING HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX)

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    Stefan Schröck of the Styria mountain rescue service told Austrian public broadcaster ORF: "You can't move under a blanket of snow like this.

    "The man was extremely lucky he had a big enough air pocket under the blanket of snow, so he had oxygen too and was able to breathe."

    Surviving for five hours under an avalanche happens only every 20 years in the Alps, according to Mr Schröck.

    If you are not found within 15 minutes of an avalanche your chances of survival are slim. If you are to survive beyond an hour you need a source of oxygen.

    If you are not found within 15 minutes of an avalanche your chances of survival are slim
    (Image: BERGRETTUNG GROEBMING HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX)

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    Yesterday, rescuers were searching for a number of other skiers feared buried alive.

    At least two people were injured in the landslide that hit the Austrian ski resort of Ankogel and one at the Swiss resort of Andermatt.

    After a large avalanche spilled onto the piste at Andermatt, two people were pulled from the snow and taken to Uri hospital with minor injuries, Swiss police said.

    Four more were retrieved unhurt, but it was unclear how many others could be buried under the snow, a police spokesman said, adding that a large rescue squad was on the site.

    A number of people were injured in the avalanche
    (Image: Urs Flueeler/EPA-EFE/REX)

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    Reto Pfister, state police spokesperson in the Swiss canton of Uri, told NBC News: “We believe there are more people buried but we can’t say how many."

    Anne Jehn, director of Andermatt Ski Academy, was on the scene just after the avalanche hit and worked with her students to rescue a woman from the snow.

    "She was ash gray. Shocked. But I guess she'll be okay," Ms Jehn said, NBC News reported.

    Three avalanches swept the area
    (Image: Urs Flueeler/EPA-EFE/REX)

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    Meanwhile, danger for the area had been at level three on a scale of  five, according to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), which said fresh and wind-drifted snow was the main threat.

    In Austria, three avalanches came down in Ankogel in the province of Carinthia, police said.

    Emergency services at the scene
    (Image: REUTERS)

    One happened outside the secured ski slope and buried two free riders, who were able to escape.

    A large rescue team, searching for possible victims of another major avalanche that came down directly on the slope, had not found anyone by afternoon, a police spokesman said.

    The avalanche warning level had also been at three on a scale of five, according to Carinthia's warning service.

    Sourse: www.mirror.co.uk

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