Five French mountaineers die in Italy avalanche
Rescue teams managed to find the victims’ guide before bad weather forced them to call off operations for the night.2 May 2008
ROME - Five French mountaineers were killed after a snowslide swept them away in Italy's northwestern Alps, an Italian rescue team said on Thursday.
The French consulate in Italy confirmed the dead as four men and one woman aged between 38 and 61. Their 45-year-old French guide was also rescued and treated for shock and injuries in a nearby hospital after the snowslide on Wednesday afternoon.
Rescuers took the bodies down on Thursday to a hospital in the nearby town of Aosta and the victim's families were informed of the deaths, the consulate added.
A prosecutor in Turin is investigating the causes of the accident.
Helicopter-led rescue operations managed to save the guide on Wednesday evening, but had to be called off at nightfall due to darkness and bad weather.
Rescuers resumed their search at dawn only to find the dead bodies, they said.
The victims were caught up in a thick blizzard, rescuers said, 3,000 metres up in the Gran Paradiso National Park, an Alpine area north of Turin, near the French border. A mass of fresh snow fell and killed them.
The owners of a mountain lodge where the mountaineers were due to spend the night, raised the alarm at around 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, after the group failed to show up on time.
This year alone, snow avalanches have claimed around 10 lives in Italy.
[AFP / Expatica]