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Wednesday, 21 December 2011


An avalanche is a fall of a mass of snow and ice down a deep slope. Avalanches occur because of the unstable nature of snow masses in mountain areas.

The Saint Bernard dog is often depicted wearing a small brandy keg around its neck for reviving avalanche and frostbite victims. The quaint symbol is merely a myth perpetuated by the 19th century artist Edwin Landseer in his famous portrait of the breed reviving a traveler.

England's worst ever avalanche occurred at Lewes, Sussex on December 27, 1836, when a huge build-up of snow on a chalk cliff overlooking the town collapsed into the settlement 325 feet (100 metres) below. It destroyed a row of cottages killing eight people.

The worst avalanche in United States history happened on March 1, 1910. It buried a Great Northern Railway train in northeastern King County, Washington, killing 96 people.

Train wreckage caused by the avalanche

A sudden blizzard in the Hindukush mountains of Afghanistan on February 8, 2010 triggered a series of at least 36 avalanches, that struck the southern approach to the Salang tunnel, north of Kabul. Over two miles of road was buried, killing at least 172 people and trapping over 2,000 travelers.

An avalanche can pack 36,000 pounds of force as 1 million or more cubic feet of snow slides down a mountain at 90 mph.

70 percent of fatal avalanches take place within four days of another avalanche.

The chance of surviving an avalanche is :
92% if found within 15 minutes
30% if found within 35 minutes (victims die of suffocation)
Nearly zero after two hours (victims die of injuries and hypothermia).

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