Heavy snowfall leaves 17 dead across Europe

Some 17 people have died following a week of heavy snowfall across continental Europe.

A 16-year-old boy is the latest person to lose his life after he was struck by an avalanche whilst skiing with family in the Austrian resort of St Anton Am Alberg, local police said.

In neighbouring Slovakia, mountain rescue teams reported the death of 37-year-old man killed in an avalanche in the Mala Fatra mountains.

A seven-year-old child was killed in Aying, near Munich, by a falling tree which was reportedly weighed down by snow.

A woman makes her way on a bicycle through heavy snow in Munich. Credit: Matthias Schrader/AP

The Austrian minister responsible for tourism, Elisabeth Koestinger, said “in most skiing areas, there is no reason for concern at present if people keep to the rules and don’t leave the secured slopes”.

The severe weather has caused problems for motorists in Austria and southern Germany with long tailbacks reported on motorways, trapping lorries and cars for hours.

A snow plough train stands at the station during heavy snow in Miesbach, Germany. Credit: Matthias Schrader/AP

Forecasters predict conditions will remain steady in the coming days but say further snowfall is expected on Sunday.

Authorities have taken precautionary measures to ensure that lives are not threatened by the treacherous conditions.

In Norway, more than 100 people were evacuated from their homes on Svalbard - an archipelago 500 miles north of the country's mainland - as a storm approached, bringing with it concerns of avalanches.