14 Feb 2017

Four killed in avalanche at French ski resort

7:43 am on 14 February 2017

At least four people have died in an avalanche at the ski resort of Tignes in south-eastern France, rescuers say.

This image of the French Alps shows an avalanche site in an off-piste area after an avalanche engulfed nine people, killing at least four.

The 400-metre wide avalanche occurred at a ski resort popular with British holidaymakers. Photo: AFP

The group of snowboarders, including an experienced guide, was buried after the wall of snow swept through an off-piste area, local police said.

The identity of those in the group is still not clear but it was said to include two teenage boys, aged 18 and 15.

A search is still under way for anyone else caught up in the disaster.

However, earlier reports suggesting there were nine in the group were incorrect, local police told the BBC. The other five people who had been due to join the excursion were not with the group when the avalanche hit.

A source close to ESF, the ski school which is reported locally to have organised the trip, told Agence France-Presse they had gone with another instructor.

The 400m wide avalanche occurred at an altitude of 2100 metres, and struck at a particularly busy time during half-term holidays.

The resort is popular with British holidaymakers, but local police said the four dead were all French nationals.

The avalanche appeared to have been set off by a group of skiers higher up, the ski station said in a statement.

Rescue services deployed two helicopters as well as sniffer dogs to help search for those missing. There are about 40 people involved in the rescue operation.

The incident is the worst in France since the beginning of this year's ski season.

The avalanche warning level at Tignes on Monday was three out of five, France's Dauphine Libere reported.

There were 13 previous skiing accidents in the Alps and Pyrenees this winter, killing three people.

Last winter, there were 45 accidents, causing 21 deaths.

- BBC

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