A tractor shovels snow on an icy road after heavy snowfall in Knoppen, Austria January 7, 2019. Image Credit: Reuters

VIENNE: Three skiers in Austria died at the weekend and four others are still missing after heavy snowfall plunged large parts of the country into chaos, authorities said on Monday.

Two German skiers were killed in avalanches in the western region of Vorarlberg on Sunday, while a Slovenian skier also died in the region of Salzburg, rescue services said.

Four snowshoe-hikers have been reported missing, also in the Salzburg region.

Up to 1.5 metres (five feet) of snow have fallen in the centre and north of Austria since the middle of last week, with up to three metres of snow in the mountains around Salzburg, meteorological services said.

Around 2,000 people, including tourists, found themselves cut off in villages in the Soelktal valley in Styria.

Army helicopters used in avalanche rescue operations were grounded due to the bad weather.

And in the Hochkar mountain range in Lower Austria, ski resorts were closed until further notice, with inhabitants and tourists requested to vacate the area.

More snow is expected this week, with up to 80 centimetres forecast from Tuesday.