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A state snowplow operator entombed by a massive avalanche dug for 18 hours to free himself, officials said. Another worker was found dead, and four other people were rescued from a snow shelter.

The avalance that covered U.S. 550 near Red Mountain Pass in southwestern Colorado originally trapped six people early Thursday. Four took refuge in a snow shelter and were rescued about eight hours later.Later Thursday, a fifth person, snowplow driver Daniel J. Jaramillo, contacted authorities after clawing his way out of the snow and walking a short distance to an emergency phone, said state Transportation Department spokesman Dan Hopkins.

Jaramillo told rescuers where he believed his partner was trapped, and his body was found shortly after that, Hopkins said.

Three state highway workers and a New Mexico woman took shelter in the reinforced concrete snowshed. They were freed after eight hours.

Also Thursday, rescuers on snowmobiles found the wreckage of a private airplane that crashed in a snowstorm near Glenwood Springs, about 250 miles west of Denver, said Garfield County sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Silvius. None of the six people aboard survived, she said.