• Switzerland's news in English

Two Swiss dead in French avalanche

AFP/The Local · 12 Jul 2012, 13:05

Published: 12 Jul 2012 12:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jul 2012 13:05 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Two Swiss climbers were killed in an avalanche in the French Alps that claimed at least nine lives on Thursday morning.

Most of the dead found after the avalanche on Mont Maudit, which translates as "Cursed Mountain", were Europeans, police said.

At least two Germans, two Swiss and two Spaniards, were initially found dead after the early morning avalanche, local police Colonel Bertrand Francois said, while another three bodies were discovered during rescue efforts.

Authorities had said earlier that five Britons and two Spaniards were among those missing but it was unclear if the bodies found were theirs.

Nine people were injured in the disaster.

Efforts were continuing to track down the missing climbers on the mountain in the Mont Blanc massif. Francois said they had been moving ahead of the rest of the group so may have avoided the avalanche.

In Paris, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he was heading to the scene to oversee operations.

"Searches are still underway to find the missing," he said in a statement.

"The interior minister wants to assure the families of his deep sympathy and full support."

One of the injured sounded the alert at around 0325 GMT after the avalanche on Mont Maudit, the massif's third-highest peak, rising to an altitude of 4,465 metres (14,650 feet), and considered one of the more difficult paths to climbing Mont Blanc.

"No weather report was forecasting an avalanche risk," the mayor of the nearby town of Chamonix, Eric Fournier, told AFP.

It is the deadliest climbing disaster in at least a decade in France.

Story continues below…

In August 2008, eight climbers -- four Germans, three Swiss and an Austrian guide -- were swept away after blocks of ice broke off Mont Blanc du Tacul, prompting an avalanche.

Thousands of tourists flock to the French Alps every year for sports including mountain climbing and skiing, but every year some fall victim to accidents.

A Norwegian cross-country skier died in April after being caught up in an avalanche on Mont Blanc, only about a month after a Canadian skier died after plunging into a 20-metre (65-foot) crevice on the mountain.

Rescue workers are often called in to assist stranded climbers or skiers.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available