Tragedy as family torn apart by deadly 10ft avalanche and boy, 14, left orphaned

A giant 10ft deep avalanche tragically decimated a family, leaving a 14-year-old boy orphaned.

The giant snow slide overran a ski resort near the Arctic city of Norilsk, Russia, late on Friday, January 8, destroying chalets in the winter sports complex.

A video shows the moment rescuers miraculously located schoolboy Makar Popov, 14, under the avalanche in treacherous blizzard conditions.

But they also dug out the bodies of his parents, first mother Maria, Popova, 38, and then father Vlad Popov, 45, buried in the deep snow.

Makar’s 18-month-old brother was also found dead.

The family had been asleep at their home at the small Gora Otdelnaya ski complex at Talnakh, close to Russia’s bleak nickel and copper capital, Norilsk, when a mountaintop snow cap crashed down on their chalet at night.

The teenager is in a “grave” condition in hospital as medics fight to save his life.

He suffered frostbite in temperatures of minus 25C and sustained multiple fractures.

He was said to be in “deep shock” as officials scrambled to find family members to care for the orphaned boy.

"[The boy] has received the necessary assistance and is in intensive care. His condition is serious, but stable," said a health ministry spokesman later.

He is no longer on a lung ventilator, it was reported on Sunday.

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His mother – who previously travelled to Britain and spoke English fluently – had earlier posted a video of the chalet which was hit by the avalanche.

Her husband ran the ski lifts at the resort.

Sunday was declared a day of mourning in the Arctic city as money was raised for the boy.

Ski resort boss Igor Shatalov said he feared half a dozen more tourists were buried by the avalanche.

But this was not confirmed by the Russian authorities, which said the searches had finished at the site.

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The snow fall struck at an area deemed safe from avalanches.

The avalanche blanketed an area of 6,500 square feet at the winter sports base.

The accident came as Norilsk is still in the “polar night” when there is barely any daylight.

An emergency source said: “The threat of a repeated avalanche collapse currently exists.

“All security measures are being taken.”

Volunteer rescuer Maksim Innikhov – one of 250 involved in the search – said: “We found parts of the houses where the family of four …were staying for a holiday….”

They were desperately digging to locate a singing mobile phone under the snow.

“Rescuers are trying to figure the exact area where the signal is coming from.

‘People are continuing to come to help, many are walking to the site with their own shovels.

“A huge amount of equipment is used at the site, everyone is doing their absolute best to find the people.

‘I came to the site as soon as I heard about the avalanche.

“Our house is at the site, the snow stopped some five metres from our door.”

A criminal case has been opened into an alleged breach of safety rules.

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