Swiss mountain rescue teams have pulled out several people who were buried in a mid-afternoon avalanche at the popular ski resort of Crans-Montana and are searching for others, police said.

Rescuers “saved several people” after a search involving helicopters, according to spokesman Steve Leger, of the Valais police.

He said the state of their injuries was not immediately known.

Valais police said the avalanche took place near the Plaine Morte peak and resort operator CMA said an alarm sounded shortly before 2.30pm local time.

Rescue crews work on the avalanche site at the ski resort of Crans-Montana
Rescue crews at the site of the avalanche (Anthony Anex/Keystone via AP)

Local newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that Crans-Montana mayor Nicolas Feraud had said between 10 and 12 people were buried in the avalanche, but in a later email to the Associated Press Mr Feraud said the situation was still evolving.

Michele Vizzino, manager of La Violette restaurant near the gondola heading up to the peak, said he heard the avalanche but did not see it.

Video from the site showed skiers on the slopes above a trail of lumpy snow.

The avalanche comes ahead of a women’s World Cup skiing event involving stars such as Switzerland’s Lara Gut on the Mont Lachaux run at Crans-Montana.

Event spokesman Hugo Steinegger said two companies of Swiss military forces who had been deployed for the races were quickly dispatched to the avalanche site to help with the rescue operation.

He said the avalanche was not expected to affect the start of the event, which begins with training runs on Thursday.