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Avalanche kills six in French Alps

Avalanche kills six in French Alps

Six experienced skiers have been killed in one of the deadliest avalanches in recent years in the French Alps.

The skiers – four men and two women aged between 58 and 73 – had been trekking at 7,900ft when they were swept to their deaths.

The tragedy in the Queyras mountain range, close to the border with Italy, comes after a British man and a French woman were killed in the Alps on Friday.

It brings the total number of dead so far this season to at least 17. About 30 people are killed in avalanches and other skiing accidents in the Alps every year, according to the French national association for the study of snow and avalanches (Anena).

Rescuers working in treacherous conditions overnight found three bodies buried in snow on the Vallon de Bachas after midnight on Saturday. Three more bodies were found nearby on Sunday morning. An investigation into the incident is under way amid suspicions that the group may have detached a wind slab on a slope.

Five of the victims were from the Hautes Alpes region, with the sixth from Var in southern France. A police spokeswoman said she could not confirm that all the victims were French as relatives were still identifying the bodies at the local ski resort of Ceillac, from where the group had set out on Saturday morning. One of the victims was identified as Carol Nash Hamilton.

The skiers belonged to the local branch of the French skiing federation, which was holding a national conference on Sunday. Organisers announced the deaths as the conference in Nantes opened and sent condolences to the families.

On Friday, a Briton in his 30s slid to his death down a gully while descending from the Tour Ronde in the Mont Blanc range with four friends. He apparently lost one of his skis before slipping more than 400 yards. In a separate accident the same day, a 46-year-old woman was killed in an avalanche in Valloire in Savoie.

Authorities have warned of the risk of avalanches following heavy snow in recent days. There was a three-out-of-five risk of an avalanche in the Queyras range over the weekend.

Saturday’s avalanche in the French Alps was one of the deadliest involving skiers since January 2006, when five off-piste skiers were buried by snow. According to Anena, 17 people were killed by avalanches across all the French mountain ranges in the 2014 season, 21 in 2013, and 22 in 2012.



 

 

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