Dutch Prince Critically Hurt In Austrian Avalanche : The Two-Way Dutch prince Johan Friso was buried in an avalanche for at least 15 minutes in a skiing accident in Austria before he was rescued. The heavy snow is part of Europe's recent cold snap that's killed at least 650 people.
NPR logo Dutch Prince Critically Hurt In Austrian Avalanche

Dutch Prince Critically Hurt In Austrian Avalanche

Dutch Prince Friso with his family at Lech, Austria in February, 2011. He was rescued from an avalanche while skiing today in Lech. AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Dutch Prince Friso with his family at Lech, Austria in February, 2011. He was rescued from an avalanche while skiing today in Lech.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Dutch Prince Johan Friso was buried in an avalanche and critically hurt while skiing in western Austria today. Rescuers located him after he'd spent at least 15 minutes covered by heavy snow; he'd been wearing an emergency location beeper. The prince is in critical but stable condition at an Innsbruck hospital, according to Radio Netherlands, which adds his prognosis isn't clear.

Johan Friso, the second son of the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix, was not skiing on marked trails when the avalanche occurred near Lech, a ski resort, says Bloomberg. No one else was injured. There's been heavy snowfall in that part of the Austrian Alps and two skiiers died this week in a separate avalanches. Lech was briefly isolated because of avalanche risks, while some rail travel was curtailed.

The heavy snow in Europe is part of the region's worst cold snap in many years. More than 650 people have died in the frigid temperatures. AccuWeather calls it Three Weeks On Ice - Europe Cold Wave of 2012. The weather outlet predicts the paralyzing cold will soon relent slightly, but the region has already set record low temperatures.

Heavy snow triggered two major freeway pileups in the Czech Republic this week, injuring seven people; one of the wrecks involved nearly 100 damaged vehicles and cut off a main route into Prague, the capital, according to the Guardian.

More than 63,000 people are reportedly cut off in two Romanian counties, says the Southeast European Times. Blizzards have dumped more than 16 feet of snow on isolated villages who have limited access to power or supplies. ITN highlights one man whose house was so entombed in snow he spent hours digging a path to reach the front door.

The freeze even gripped Italy, where the walls of the Colosseum in Rome and the historic walled town of Urbino were laden with snow and may be damaged, according to CNN.