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Avalanche Hits Japan Ski Resort; 1 Feared Dead, 7 Survive

A ski resort in Shimukappu is seen in Hokkaido, Japan, in this photo taken Feb. 10, 2009.

An avalanche at a ski resort on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday hit a group of eight foreign skiers, likely killing at least one.

The avalanche occurred when the group was skiing outside of a designated course near the Tomamu ski resort in central Hokkaido, according to the nearby Shimukappu village office.

One skier who escaped from the snow called police asking for help, said village official Atsushi Tada. The caller said one of them, a Frenchman in his 40s, was feared dead, but six others survived, though further details of their conditions were not available.

Rescuers from the Hokkaido police were expected to head to the site for their rescue, although the operation may be hampered by risks of another avalanche.

Tada said nationalities and other details of the seven survivors were not known.