Italy to jail people who set off avalanches

The measures were proposed after eight people died at the weekend, seven in the Italian Alps and an eighth in the Appenines range along the country’s central spine.

Another 10 people were injured, some of them buried in snow before being dug out by rescuers.

The legislation, which will go before parliament shortly, would impose prison sentences on off-piste skiers and hikers who cause deaths by setting off avalanches.

Skiers and snowboarders who knowingly ignore avalanche warnings and venture off piste could be fined up to 5,000 euros (£4,400), even if they do not trigger an avalanche.

The new legislation has been proposed by Italy’s civil protection agency, whose rescue workers often risk their lives to save avalanche victims.

It will be contained in emergency legislation to be discussed by the Senate.

Most of the avalanches at the weekend happened around popular skiing and mountaineering resorts in the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino and Veneto, in the north of the country.

The veteran Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner said that threatening skiers and snowboarders with prison and fines was a “hysterical reaction”.

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