A gunman in Austria has killed four people including three police officers and barricaded himself in a farmhouse.

A tense standoff with heavily armed police surrounding the building near the Alpine ski resort of Annaberg is under way.

Swat teams backed by armoured vehicles blocked off the area around the farm in Melk, a village in the province of Lower Austria 70km (40 miles) west of Vienna.

State broadcaster ORF reported that the suspect was a 55-year-old poacher and was heavily armed. He was reportedly apprehended by police overnight for illegal hunting. He fled by car but crashed into a ditch.

As police approached he opened fire, injuring a police officer who later died in hospital and killing a paramedic who went to the officer's rescue. A second policeman was also injured.

The suspect escaped on foot and hijacked a police car, killing a second policeman and taking a third hostage.

He drove to his farmhouse and barricaded himself inside. The corpse of the hostage was found nearby.

Police have failed to make contact with the gunman and relatives of the suspect have been brought in to help bring an end to the standoff.