Missing Valais man ‘froze to death’

A young man who went missing from Vétroz in the canton of Valais following a work party on Saturday has been found dead.

Missing Valais man ‘froze to death’
The man went missing in Vétroz. Photo: Taou Lavigne, Wikimedia Commons

The 24-year-old, who was not wearing a coat, is thought to have frozen to death in overnight temperatures of minus three degrees, according to newspaper reports.

The man’s body was discovered lying in a vegetable plot by a dog walker six days after his disappearance.

The young man, who worked for a drilling company, had moved on to a club with friends following a work night out.

At around 10pm he was thrown out of the club in t-shirt sleeves, apparently because he had no money.

According to Valais paper Le Nouvelliste, a worker at a kebab stand opposite the club was the last person to see him alive.

He said he had given the young man a sandwich although he had not had the money to pay for it.

The kebab seller said he was accompanied by another person.

The dead man’s father said he found it hard to accept that his son had died of hypothermia.

He said his son may have become disorientated and been heading for Sion.

A manhunt involving search dogs and helicopters failed to find the missing man.



Weather warning: Part of Swiss Alps placed on high avalanche alert

Due to the heavy snowfall in recent days and more expected until the weekend, an avalanche warning is issued for Switzerland’s southern canton of Valais.

Weather warning: Part of Swiss Alps placed on high avalanche alert
Avalanche warnings should be taken very seriously. Photo by AFP

Valais authorities said the current avalanche risk level is between 4 and 5, meaning ‘high’ to ‘extreme’.

The population is urged to stay at home. When out, they should obey the signs and especially stay away from the avalanche corridors, officials warned.

Significant amounts of snow have fallen in the area in recent days, dumping 1 metre of snow above the altitude of 2,000 metres in the upper part of the canton. Between 30 and 40 centimetres are still expected. 

The highest risk of avalanches is in the Goms valley, the Zermatt valley, as well as the entire right bank of the Rhône. 

Some particularly threatened areas could even be evacuated, authorities said.

People planning to go skiing in Valais over the next few days should check snow conditions and avalanche warnings in place, especially as many roads, mainly in Upper Valais, are cut off, and a number of villages in the Goms Valley, Lötschental and the Zermatt region are no longer accessible by road or train. 

The Avalanche Bulletin is a good source of information not just for Valais, but for all of Switzerland’s mountain regions.

READ MORE: Is the pandemic to blame for Switzerland's spate of avalanche deaths? 

Avalanches have been particularly deadly in Switzerland this winter, having claimed 14 lives so far — well above the average yearly figure of eight people.

Avalanches have caused casualties in the mountains of Valais, Vaud, Graubünden, Obwalden and Schwyz. 

With many people concerned about the potential for contracting coronavirus on the slopes, the idea of skiing off piste has become more attractive. 

But this practice can trigger massive avalanches, so it is crucial to stay away from unsecured slopes.

READ MORE: Large crowds on Swiss ski slopes spark concern over coronavirus spread