Eight skiers and snowboarders have been killed by avalanches in Austria and German over the last seven days.

This week's casualties include a British serviceman on a training exercise in Bavaria. Three Royal Air Force servicemen were training on skis near Oberstdorf in Germany, when an avalanche hit at 1500 metres. All three were pulled out, two escaped with minor injuries, but attempts to revive the third failed.

Five died on just one day in Austria this week: avalanches hit the Zillertal, Kasberg, Pongaum and Voralberg regions on Thursday, killing two trekkers and three off-piste snowboarders.

Rising temperatures have weakened snow cover and experts are warning skiers to be particularly cautious in the Arlberg and Ausserfern areas of Austria.

The Tyrol Tourist Office says, "Off-piste is the ultimate rush, but it's not only about fun, it is also about preparation, safety, knowledge, and mountain awareness. A slide can happen anywhere on the snow, but most avalanches occur on slopes between the angles of 30 and 45 degrees. Riding after a heavy snowfall is unwise - the chances of a slide are great, even greater if the snow is wet and heavy. Never venture into the open without safety equipment: avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe."

Look out for avalanche warnings, which will be posted at lift stations, patrol huts, and tourist offices. You can also get up-to-the-minute information by calling national and local avalanche telephone hot lines.