Three killed by avalanche in Swiss Alps

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Three people were killed on Friday after nine hikers were swept away by an avalanche high in the southwestern Swiss Alps, police said.

All of the party were pulled from the snow after rescuers rushed to the spot above the village of Ayer by helicopter, police in the canton of Valais said.

"The avalanche killed three and injured one person," police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet told AFP. "The other members of the group were not hurt."

Police said the avalanche happened at 9:45 am (0745 GMT) at an altitude of about 2,500 metres (8,200 feet).

An avalanche alert on level three of a scale of five was in force across the Swiss Alps on Friday, signalling a "marked" danger as the high altitude ski touring season was underway.

Five hikers from a French mountaineering club were killed, including one still missing feared dead, and five were injured last Saturday when 11 people were hit by an avalanche further west in the Valais region.

© 2011 AFP

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