At least six skiers died when they were struck by a large avalanche in northern Italy on Saturday, the ANSA news agency reported.
Rescue teams were searching for further skiers that may have been caught up in the avalanche on Schneebiger Nock, a 3,358-metre-high mountain near the Austrian border in the Italian province of South Tyrol.
The news agency reported that search parties, helicopters and sniffer dogs were on the mountain, known as Monte Nevoso in Italian.
Several people were able to free themselves and help others out from under the snow, the report said.
"We rarely have operations on a scale like this," ANSA quoted Rafael Kostner of the mountain rescue service Aiut Alpin as saying. The organization was coordinating the flights of rescue helicopters.
"The high altitude of the accident site makes the operation very difficult," Kostner said. However the rescue service had already succeeded in removing the six bodies to lower ground.