Five killed in avalanches in French Alps

2nd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

GRENOBLE, Jan 2 (AFP) - A cross-country skier missing in the French Alps after he was caught in an avalanche at the weekend has been found dead, mountain police said on Monday.

GRENOBLE, Jan 2 (AFP) - A cross-country skier missing in the French Alps after he was caught in an avalanche at the weekend has been found dead, mountain police said on Monday.

Helicopters airlifted two rescuers to the avalanche site, who located and recovered his body thanks to a radio transmitter he was carrying.

The victim's two companions had managed to fight their way out following the avalanche on Sunday.

Snow slides claimed the lives of three other skiers at the weekend, while two climbers were also found dead near Mont Blanc, buried beneath snow at about 3,500 metres altitude.

The foreign climbers were found at about 3,500 metres altitude at the foot of the Gouter route, an established path up France's highest mountain, after they failed to make a rendezvous with a friend at a refuge, said police in the Alpine resort town of Chamonix.

Rescuers began the search with a helicopter before finding the mountaineers, whose nationalities were not revealed, buried beneath snow. The circumstances of their deaths were not clear, police said.

A 42-year-old male American skier was killed near Courchevel in the Savoy department after leaving a ski run at about 1:30pm and being caught in a snow slide as he traversed a slope.

Witnesses immediately sounded the alarm and the man's body was found 1.8 metres below the surface 20 minutes later.

Meanwhile at nearby Valoire, two walkers alarmed by the discovery of a ski and signs of an avalanche at 2,150 metres altitude came across a middle-aged woman suffering from advanced hypothermia.

She was taken to a hospital in Chambéry and placed in intensive care but died later in the day, police said.

Further searches were carried out after another avalanche at about 3pm in the same area, although police said it seemed unlikely anyone was caught in the deluge.

Another avalanche struck the three cross-country skiers near Saint-Colomban-des-Villards; two managed to fight their way clear.

One of the survivors sustained a number of broken ribs.

Two police officers and a doctor were resigned to spending the night sheltering beneath a rock after the weather prevented them leaving the area, said police spokesman Fabrice Vion.

A 25-year-old man was killed on Saturday by a snow slide while skiing off-piste above the Toussuire resort in the Savoy area.

French weather forecasters had issued a level four avalanche warning, the second highest on a scale of five, for the weekend and warned skiers not to stray from established ski runs.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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