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Dutch govt: queen's son stable after avalanche, but life still in danger
VIENNA (AP) ' The second son of Dutch Queen Beatrix spent a stable night in the hospital after he was seriously injured in an avalanche, but his life remains in danger, the Netherlands government said Saturday.
Prince Johan Friso, 43, was rushed to the intensive care unit of Innsbruck's main hospital Friday after he was buried under snow. He had been skiing off marked trails in the westernmost Lech winter sports region.
The statement Saturday said "his life is still in danger, but he had a calm and stable night."
Hospital officials did not issue a statement on the prince's condition. The usually well-informed Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad said the prince suffered serious oxygen deprivation after being buried for some 20 minutes but has no other major injuries.
After rushing to the hospital from Lech Friday, the queen and Friso's wife, Princess Mabel, paid a renewed visit to the intensive ward where Friso was being treated. Both women were dressed in black and wearing sunglasses. Mabel put her arm protectively around the queen's shoulders as the two passed a line of waiting journalists without saying anything.
The accident happened early Friday afternoon as the prince was on slopes away from the marked Lech ski runs and laden with snow after weeks of record falls. His companion, an unidentified Austrian, escaped unhurt.
The Lech municipal office said a regional avalanche warning issued for the day was four on the five-point scale, meaning the danger was high.
Spokeswoman Pia Herbst of the Lech region tourist authority said rescuers found Friso through signals of an avalanche transceiver on his body.
Friso was in Lech along with other members of the royal family, whose members ski regularly there. The upscale resort area has also been a popular winter holiday destination for Tom Cruise, the late Princess Diana and other celebrities.
The second of Beatrix's three sons, Friso gave up any claim to the Dutch throne to marry Dutch commoner Mabel Wisse Smit, in 2004. The pair has two daughters, Luana and Zaria. He most recently worked as financial director at Urenco, the European uranium-enrichment consortium.
Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Michael Corder at the Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.