Dutch Prince Johan Friso In Coma After Avalanche

Dutch Prince Johan Friso, injured in an avalanche last week, is in a coma and may never regain consciousness, doctors treating him in Austria say.

The prince is seen here in the Austrian Alps last yearDutch Prince Johan Friso, injured in an avalanche last week, is in a coma and may never regain consciousness, doctors treating him in Austria say.

Prince Friso, who had been on a skiing holiday in the Austrian resort of Lech, lay buried under snow for about 15 minutes before being rescued.

He was taken to hospital in Innsbruck after the accident, in which nobody else was hurt.

The prince, 43, is the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

He had been skiing with between one and three other people off the marked pistes when the avalanche hit shortly after midday local time last Friday, said resort officials.

He was buried by an avalanche reportedly measuring about 30m (yds) wide by 40m long.

A beeper he was wearing allowed rescuers to locate him quickly.

Speaking to reporters in Innsbruck, Dr Wolfgang Koller said it had taken nearly 50 minutes to revive the prince.

MRI scans have shown his brain suffered "massive damage'' in the avalanche.

The prince will be moved at a later date to a private clinic for further treatment but it may take years before he awakens, if ever, the doctor said.

"We cannot say today with certainty whether Prince Friso will one day regain consciousness," added Dr Koller, who is head of the trauma unit at Innsbruck's University Hospital.