Searches resumed at first light on Sunday 31 March for a skier who is feared to have been swept away by an avalanche in northern Scotland.

The man was skiing in an off-piste area behind the Glencoe Ski Centre in the Etive Glades when the avalanche struck at 1pm on Saturday, with snow travelling 1,000ft down the slope's rocky face.

The Northern Constabulary co-ordinated the search, with the help of 30 people from Glencoe and Lochaber mountain rescue teams as well as the mountain resort's ski patrol.

A helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth was also scrambled.

"The avalanche has actually gone into a gully, and in some places the snow is about 40ft deep," said John Grieve, leader of the Glencoe Mountain Team.

"Our guys have been out digging deep trenches and probing from there, as our poles are obviously not long enough to do it from the surface of the snow.

"The missing man is an extremely experienced skier... we will continue looking until we find him."

He said that it was unlikely the man had survived. The search was called off as darkness fell, but resumed at first light.

Several people have been killed by avalanches in Scotland so far this year.

In January, four experienced climbers died on Bidean Nam Bian In Glencoe. One of the party survived, but with serious injuries.

Three people also died after an avalanche in the Cairngorms in February.

One of those who died was a student, while two were off-duty members of the RAF mountaineering association.

In the same week there was a second fatal avalanche involving a hillwalker.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said that there were 52 fatalities in Scotland's mountains in 2011, with 21 being mountaineering-related.

This was a rise on the figures from 2010, when there were 45 deaths, of which 16 were mountaineering related.

Statistics show that the total number of deaths has declined since the 1990s.