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Mt Buller death: Boy, 7, found buried under snow after large-scale search at ski resort

Thursday June 26, 2014 - 15:15 EST
ABC image
The chalet at Mt Buller where the boy died. - ABC
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The medical centre at Mt Buller. - ABC

A seven-year-old boy has died after being buried under snow at the Mt Buller ski fields, in Victoria's north-east.

The boy, from Roxburgh Park in Melbourne's north, was playing outside the chalet where he was staying when a large amount of snow fell from the roof onto him yesterday evening.

He was reported missing shortly before 5:00pm (AEST) and, after a large-scale search, was found unconscious in the snow about 6:30pm.

Police said the ski patrol and the CFA assisted in the search for the boy for about two hours.

Acting Sergeant Matt Bennett from Victoria Police said the boy was unresponsive when he was found.

"He was removed from the snow, he'd been under there for approximately an hour-and-a-half to three-quarters," Sgt Bennett said.

"We had [an] ambulance on the scene ready to respond immediately which they did and transported him straight to the medical centre."

It is understood he died of suffocation.

Sgt Bennett said the boy was playing with his siblings when the snow fell on him.

"I believe they'd been playing only for a matter of 10 or so minutes, they'd been out for a day of snow play with the family and as kids do, building snowmen outside the door of the lodge," Sgt Bennett said.

"He's obviously become separated from his two siblings at some point, and they were unaware of him wandering off, or his location."

Sgt Bennett said the boy's family had since returned to Melbourne.

"They were very distraught right from the onset of the child being missing... obviously we're dealing with them as well," he said.

CEO of Mt Buller resort John Huber said the community was struggling with the boy's death.

"My staff and the Mt Buller community take things like this very much to heart, this is our town this is our village and we take pride in what we do here, we come together in moments of triumph and moments of tragedy," he said.

Mr Huber said property owners were taking a range of precautions to manage the risks that the snow had brought and would review safety at the resort.

"We will always use every opportunity to review the resort's operation procedures, the way we present the resort, the way we look after safety, we do that all the time and we'll certainly use this as an opportunity to do that," he said.

"There is unfortunately no silver bullet solution to snow shed and snow build up inside resorts, and it's something that's been dealt with for a number of years across the world."

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the thoughts of all Victorians were with the boy's family.

"I was advised about this last night. [It's] an absolute tragedy," Dr Napthine said.

"Our heart goes out to the family of that young boy, and of course we also think of those emergency workers and other volunteers who worked so hard to try and find him and save him."

Mt Buller has been swamped with snow in recent days and the resort set up signs in the village warning people about snow falling from roofs.


© ABC 2014

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