The avalanche hit Mount Yotei in Hokkaido, Japan, on Monday, killing two people from New Zealand.
© Jun AsanoThe avalanche hit Mount Yotei in Hokkaido, Japan, on Monday, killing two people from New Zealand.
Two people from New Zealand died in an avalanche in Mount Yotei in Japan on Monday, police said.

A third person, also caught in the avalanche, sustained a shoulder injury.

Police in Japan confirmed that two foreigners "have sadly passed away" following an avalanche, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

A spokesperson said: "The New Zealand embassy has offered consular support to the families of those involved."

The two New Zealand nationals lost their lives while skiing in the backcountry of Mount Yotei, approximately 90km from the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido island.

According to The Japan Times, rescue services were alerted through an emergency call at about 11am local time, with reports of two people being stranded at Mt Yotei.

The mountain, reaching a height of 1,898m and covering areas including Kutchan and Niseko, experienced a snow slip that hit the group of skiers on the northern slope.

New Zealand's Stuff reported that one person from the group managed to come back from the mountain, reporting a shoulder injury. The survivor, along with three others, returned and alerted authorities about the avalanche around 10am.

According to the snow sports website Snow Brains, the two victims were buried under the snow after the avalanche hit. They were transported to a hospital by air but were pronounced dead upon arrival.

One of the skiers was identified as 21-year-old Isabella Bolton by Stuff. "While we come to terms with our loss and bringing Isabella home to New Zealand, we request privacy to mourn Isabella," the family said in a statement.

Bolton was born in Watford, England, but grew up in Diamond Harbour and Heathcote Valley in Canterbury, where she attended Rangi Ruru Girls' High School, according to the report.

"Isabella was full of vitality and passion for life. Her adventurous spirit and love for skiing and the outdoors led her to study for a Diploma in Outdoor Adventure Guiding in Banff, Canada."

She had experience working on ski fields in Canada, Tekapo, and Wanaka before moving to Niseko, Japan, in November last year, where she reportedly excelled in her role as a ski guide.

The identity of another victim was not yet available.

According to The Japan Times, the Sapporo District Meteorological Observatory stated that there were no avalanche warnings in effect for the Mount Yotei area, and heavy snowfall was not occurring at the time of the incident.

The snow accumulation estimated over the 48 hours leading up to the incident ranged from 5 to 10cm, a level not typically associated with triggering avalanches, the report noted.