US teen survives 48 hours lost in Swiss Alps

Helicopters and rescue workers of Swiss Air-Rescue service Rega on duty after an avalanche at the Piz Vilan Mountain, eastern Switzerland, on Jan 31, 2014. A 19-year-old American student who disappeared over the weekend while skiing in the Swiss
Helicopters and rescue workers of Swiss Air-Rescue service Rega on duty after an avalanche at the Piz Vilan Mountain, eastern Switzerland, on Jan 31, 2014. A 19-year-old American student who disappeared over the weekend while skiing in the Swiss Alps was rescued on Tuesday, Feb 3, 2015 alive but suffering from hypothermia, police said Tuesday. -- PHOTO: EPA

GENEVA (AFP) - A 19-year-old American student who disappeared over the weekend while skiing in the Swiss Alps was rescued Tuesday, alive but suffering from hypothermia, police said Tuesday.

After searching for more than 48 hours, rescuers finally found the US teen, who went missing while skiing off-piste Sunday near the Diablerets resort in southern Switzerland, police in the canton of Vaud said in a statement.

"The man was found conscious, in a state of hypothermia and exhaustion, and stuck waist-deep in the thick blanket of snow," the statement said, describing his survival as "miraculous".

He had told his rescuers that he had left the prepared slopes to "free ride" back to the resort.

But on his way down the mountain, he had gotten lost and broken one of his bindings. He had tried to continue on one ski, but had fallen into a stream.

Exhausted and soaked, the 19-year-old was then caught in a storm, which snowed him under and trapped him for the next two days.

"The skier was relatively well-equipped when it came to clothing, but had no working means of communication and none of the vital material needed when skiing off-piste," including shovels and sensors, the police said.

The skier, whose life was not in danger, was taken by helicopter to the Zweisimmen hospital near Bern.

The American's rescue came after 11 off-piste skiers were killed in avalanches in the Swiss Alps over a period of four days, following heavy snowfall.