Dutch prince fighting for his life after being buried in avalanche
PRINCE Friso van Oranje, son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was in critical condition in an Austrian hospital after being buried in an avalanche while skiing yesterday.
Prince Friso (43) was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was "not out of danger of death", according to the information service in the Hague.
Doctors last night said that they would not be able to give a prognosis for several days.
The prince was skiing off-piste with another person without a guide and triggered the avalanche, according to Hermann Fercher, tourism director at Lech, the ski resort in the western Austrian province of Vorarlberg where the Dutch royal family regularly spends holidays.
"Only the prince was buried, and he was rescued within 20 minutes," Mr Fercher said. An elevated avalanche risk of four on a scale of five was in effect in the region, he said. The prince was recovered by the Lech mountain rescue service and volunteers with the help of avalanche beacons and was helicoptered to Innsbruck.
Prince Friso, the younger brother of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, is chief financial officer at Urenco Ltd, a London-based uranium enrichment company.
He gave up his claim to the throne in 2003 by deciding to marry Mabel Wisse Smit without parliament's permission. Princess Mabel had provided incomplete information to the government during a background check about her past relationship with the late Klaas Bruinsma, the former head of a Dutch criminal organisation.
Queen Beatrix and Princess Mabel joined Prince Friso in the hospital, the Dutch government's information service said. Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Prince Friso's younger brother, Constantijn, are on their way to Innsbruck with their families, Dutch newswire ANP reported.
Snowfall and strong winds have raised the avalanche risk in many parts of the Austrian Alps, where two skiers died in an avalanche yesterday, according to the Austria Press Agency.