Updates: Fourth missing person found dead

Four people have been confirmed killed when a ski touring group was hit by an avalanche in western Austria, police have reported.

Rescuers had used snow drilling machines in an attempt to find a fourth missing person in the remote area near the Jochgrubenkopf, a roughly 2,450m high peak in the Tyrol. He was however found dead, buried 10 metres deep in snow, Reuters reports.

Their nationalities were not yet known, authorities have said.

"Four of them were able to free themselves (from the snow)," a spokeswoman for Tyrol police told the agency. "After the search operation for the remaining four, three were found dead. The fourth person who remains unaccounted for is being sought."

The avalanche hit at 12.30 noon local time.

A total of 267 people died in the Austrian Alps last year, down from an average of 297 over the past 10 years, including 17 in avalanches, according to the Austrian Alpine safety board.