2 Americans found dead on Swiss mountain
11 August 2008
ZERMATT – An American man and woman fell to their deaths from a mountain in southern Switzerland after being caught in stormy weather, police and local rescuers said Saturday.
The 53-year-old man and 57-year-old woman were found late Friday at about 4,000 metres on the eastern flank of the Matterhorn, Valais canton (state) police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet said.
He did not identify the victims by name because of strict Swiss privacy rules.
Bruno Jelk, who led the rescue mission to find the two after they were reported missing on Thursday evening, said the pair was caught up in bad weather.
“It snowed and there was a storm,” Jelk told The Associated Press by telephone from the town of Zermatt, near the Italian border.
“The man fell about 300 metres. The woman fell too, but her rope got caught on a rock, so she fell about 70-80 metres,” he said.
Both victims were well-equipped for mountain climbing, and the area where the accident occurred is not considered particularly dangerous in normal weather conditions, he said.
“But anywhere can be dangerous when the weather turns and it snows and there’s fog.”
The victims were descending the mountain alongside three others, but due to bad visibility the two parties lost contact.
Police spokesman Bornet said the group did not have a guide.
Relatives have been notified of the deaths, he said.
It is unclear where the two were from in the United States, and the US Embassy in Bern did not immediately return calls.
Police said the latest accident takes the death toll on the Matterhorn — one of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains — to three this year. A 33-year old Czech man died there two weeks ago.
[AP / Expatica]