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Avalanche tears through Colorado slope, killing skier

DENVER (Reuters) - A backcountry skier died in an avalanche in southern Colorado on Tuesday, bringing to 19 the number of people killed by snow slides in U.S. states this winter, authorities said.

The skier, who was not identified, was crossing slopes near Conejos Peak, 280 miles southwest of Denver, when the accident occurred at an elevation of 11,700 feet, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said in a statement.

It was the seventh avalanche death in Colorado this season. Over the last 10 years, an average of 28 people are killed annually by avalanches in the United States, the center said.

A woman who was buried alive along with her husband by an avalanche that swallowed their house late last week in Missoula, Montana, died of her injuries on Sunday night. Her husband is hospitalized in serious condition.

Almost all U.S. avalanches that affect people strike in the backcountry of the mountainous West and are triggered by snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders seeking fresh powder, according to federal avalanche experts.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver, Colorado; Editing by Eric M. Johnson/Mark Heinrich)

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