Six dead and several missing following Alps avalanche

The avalanche happened on Monte Nevoso near the Austrian border

A large avalanche in the Italian Alps has killed six people and several others are missing, Italian media are reporting.

The avalanche happened on Monte Nevoso (snowy mountain) near the Austrian border and as many as 10 people could be buried.

At least two of those killed were attempting to make their way to the summit at the time.

Three helicopters carrying search teams were dispatched, but the high altitude meant that the aircraft were forced to fly with minimal fuel to reduce their weight, hampering the operation.

"Rescue operations are ongoing. The assessment is incomplete," said Italy's alpine rescue service, according to the AGI news agency.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera is reporting that a group of around 10 skiers were heading to the summit of the mountain at 3,358 metres.

Witnesses reported seeing the group make their way to the peak when the avalanche began.

One of the survivors is helping with the rescue efforts.

The warm temperatures have increased the risk of avalanches to level three out of five, where five indicates a strong risk.

Monte Nevoso is the second highest peak in the Rieserferner mountain range along the Italy-Austria border.