Swiss rescuers rush to find seven avalanche victims

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Rescuers in the Swiss Alps raced Saturday to find seven skiers missing after they were swept away by an avalanche, police in southwestern Switzerland said.

The seven were part of a group of 11 high-altitude ski hikers who were caught in an avalanche near Bourg-St-Pierre, said Jean-Marie Bornet, a spokesman for police in the Swiss canton of Valais.

One person managed to escape the snowslide and raise the alarm, while three others were found by rescuers.

"They have pulled out three, there were 11," Bornet told AFP. "It's always a race against time."

"Based on the first elements, they were French," he added, after several helicopters and rescue teams with tracker dogs were rushed to the area.

There was no indication on the condition of the three found by rescuers.

Bornet said the party was believed to be well equipped with avalanche detection devices.

© 2011 AFP

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