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Swiss police search for missing French tourist

Four tourists dead, one missing in Swiss avalanche

Mar 27, 2011

Four people were killed and five injured yesterday when the 11-strong group were caught by the avalanche on the 12,200-foot (3,730-meter) Mont Velan in the Pennine Alps near the Swiss-Italian border.

The deaths come two months after six people were killed by an avalanche in the Swiss region of Diemtigtal, with a doctor who went to help swept away in a second avalanche.

The search for this weekend's missing victim was called off for the night yesterday due to dangerous conditions, police said.

Swiss police are continuing their today with the use of helicopters and guides.

The group were from the Cluses region of France - nine equipped with snowshoes and two wearing cross-country skis.

They were traveling without a guide, but carried avalanche beacons, police said.

Police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet for the canton (state) Valais said earlier at least three of the dead were buried by the avalanche, described as about 300 metres long and 40 metres wide.

Rescuers were alerted shortly after noon by a group member who was able to free himself, Bornet said.

A vast search operation involving 10 helicopters, three ambulances, 20 guide rescuers, eight doctors and eight dog handlers was launched on the slopes above the picturesque Alpine village of Bourg-St-Pierre.

The five injured skiers were taken to several hospitals in Valais. A sixth was admitted to the University Hospital in Lausanne, but died from his injuries, police said. Some of the victims were still being identified.

Switzerland's National Avalanche Center had warned of a 'considerable' risk of snowslides in the region.

The group were reportedly walking the 180-kilometre Haute route between Chamonix in France and Zermatt in Switzerland when they were caught in the avalanche.

Four tourists dead, one missing in Swiss avalanche
Image via AP


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