CALGARY -- Two people are dead after a heli-ski group south of Nelson, B.C., was caught in an avalanche Wednesday morning.
About 10 a.m., RCMP were notified about the slide involving a group of commercially guided heli-skiers in the Bonnington Mountain range near Blewett, B.C., about 630 km southwest of Calgary.
Mounties activated Nelson Search and Rescue but the group was stood down after it was learned the heli-ski company, Snowwater Heli-Skiing, was able to rescue and remove the victims.
The group involved with the avalanche included four skiers and one guide, said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
"In the immediate area, there were other groups of skiers associated with the heli-ski operator," he said, adding those people rushed to help.
Moskaluk said of the group that was caught in the slide, the guide and one skier were able to get themselves out and, having suffered only minor injuries, and helped to dig out the other victims.
A man was confirmed dead and a woman who was "recovered unresponsive and found suffering from life-threatening injuries" also died, said Moskaluk.
The fourth skier was rescued and suffered minor injuries.
"All have been transported to medical area facilities," he said.
Snowwater Heli-Skiing said in a statement it was saddened by the fatalities, the first for the lodge since they began operations in 1994.
"Four guests and a guide were caught in an avalanche. Sadly, one guest died at the scene while another succumbed later in hospital," president Patric Maloney said. "I commend our staff and guests for their part in executing a rescue.
"Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and survivors."
Snowwater Heli-Skiing is doing what it can to take care of the guests, families and staff, it said in the statement.
Mounties are investigating along with the B.C. Coroner's Service.
Wednesday's deaths mark the ninth and 10th avalanche-related fatalities in B.C. this season.
-- With files by Katie Schneider
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