French ski patroller dies after avalanche in Switzerland’s Valais

The Local/AFP
The Local/AFP - [email protected] • 20 Feb, 2019 Updated Wed 20 Feb 2019 10:16 CEST
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UPDATED: A French ski patroller has died as a result of injuries received when an avalanche struck a ski slope in the canton of Valais on Tuesday, local police have confirmed.

Police said on Twitter that the 34-year-old had died overnight in the hospital in the city of Sion.

Three other people received minor injuries after the large avalanche hit the Plaine-Morte ski slope in Crans-Montana at around 2.15pm yesterday.

A huge search operation immediately got underway for possible further victims after local, unconfirmed reports suggested as many as 10 to 12 people may have been hit by the avalanche.

However, on Wednesday morning, police in Valais said they were suspending the search.

They said no further victims had been found beneath the snow and there were no further indications that more people were missing. However, search operations would continue if it became necessary.

Crans-Montana's website had on Tuesday listed the risk of an avalanche at two on a scale that runs from one (lowest risk) to five. 

The site of the avalanche in Crans Montana on Tuesday. Photo: AFP/Valais Police

The vast majority of deadly avalanches in the Alpine nation hit people skiing off-piste. 

"We don't know yet whether the avalanche detached by itself or was set off by skiers, or a rockfall," Swiss avalanche expert Robert Bolognesi told the 20 Minutes news site.

An investigation has now been launched into the incident.

Plaine-Morte, at an altitude of about 3,000 metres, is the highest ski slope at Crans-Montana.

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