Swiss police have confirmed the death of a young Irishman in an avalanche as he went skiing on a Christmas trip to the Alps.

They discovered the body of the unnamed 27-year-old after he was reported missing by his girlfriend on Thursday evening.

The Irish Independent reports that the man was crushed under three metres of snow in the Uri province.

The Alpine Rescue Switzerland confirmed to the newspaper that the victim was swept over 500 metres by the avalanche.

The report says he was only 30 minutes into his skiing excursion when the avalanche struck near the town of Realp in central Switzerland.

Investigators believe the avalanche was caused by a combination of heavy snow and strong winds. Falling ice may have set off a slab avalanche, a falling block of snow 150 metres wide.

Officers are waiting to inform the Irishman’s family before releasing his name.

Irish Association of Snow Sports Instructors (IASSI) spokesman Tom Metcalfe told the paper: “When a slab of snow breaks away there’s a huge amount of weight behind it. It’s like a big slab of concrete landing on top of you.

“Gusting snow poses the greatest danger in Swiss mountain regions. It’s such a terrible tragedy for this man’s family.

“People need to take heed of avalanche warnings when they go out on the mountains. We don’t know what happened in this case but often people go out without the right equipment and without the right people around you, it’s extremely hazardous.”

The report adds that the Irishman was one of a group who were skiing below the summit.

It is believed that he lived in an area close to Zurich.