An avalanche is not always made of snow but can be rocks, ice or soil which can lead to a different class of debris avalanche. The slides can go on for many miles and reach speeds above 100 km/h (60 mph).
In 1999, an avalanche in Montroc, France killed 12 people in their chalets. They were buried under 100,000 tonnes of snow with depths of 5 meters (15 feet). The mayor was convicted of second-degree murder for failure to evacuate the area.
That report is usually an average report on death tolls during avalanches. Victims are usually of a limited number and are often hikers or skiers. It's the accumulation of many avalanches that begin to show a significant amount of deaths. For instance, during World War 1, over 60,000 soldiers died while stationed in the Alps. Many of the avalanches were caused by gun-fire.
In closing, unless you're in a mountainous area with lots of snow, you really don't have to worry about avalanches, but it's still a natural disaster which has taken many lives and will take even more in the years to come.