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Man missing in Washington state avalanches, another found

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A hiker was missing after two avalanches struck the mountains in Washington state on Saturday in an area popular for winter sports, while a second missing man was found hurt but alive, a police spokeswoman said.

King County Sheriff's Sergeant Katie Larson said a 60-year-old man who had been snowshoeing with two companions disappeared about noon local time after an avalanche struck near Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains, about an hour east of Seattle.

Extremely heavy snowfall and waning daylight forced rescuers to call off the search in the evening. She had no details on the man except he was very experienced in the wilderness.

The man's two hiking companions suffered non-life-threatening injuries after the avalanche dragged them nearly a quarter mile at speeds over 50 miles an hour, she told Reuters.

In another incident nearby, a party of 13 snowshoers dug a woman in their group out of 6 feet of snow after an avalanche in the wilderness near the Alpental Ski Area, Larson said.

The woman was being brought down by rescuers from the site of the avalanche in a sled in the evening because severe weather prevented the use of a helicopter. She suffered hypothermia and other possible injuries, Larson said.

Another snowshoer from that group suffered hypothermia and was also helped off the mountain by rescuers, who had a 2 1/2- hour hike to and from the scene, Larson said.

More than 100 rescuers plus avalanche dogs responded to the two scenes, she said.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin and Elaine Porterfield in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)

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