Five people were killed in an avalanche that buried 17 people from the Czech Republic in Austria's skiing region of Tyrol Saturday, police said.

The avalanche, which regional TV station ORF Tirol said was 2 km (1.25 miles) wide and 5 m (16 feet) high, came down shortly after noon at the Wattener Lizum region, about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Innsbruck in western Austria.

Search and rescue operations were still under way Saturday afternoon, and it was unclear how many people were still missing.

Police had said earlier some people were injured, others unharmed.

The entire skiing region had been on a level three avalanche alert, out of a maximum five, and several other avalanches also were reported.