Europe

Alps deaths: Skiers, climbers and guide perish in bad weather

Police said the skiers were stuck outside overnight in the Pigne d'Arolla area Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police said the biggest group became stuck outside overnight in the Pigne d'Arolla area

Seven skiers, two climbers and a guide have died in five separate incidents after bad weather swept through the Alps region on Sunday.

Five skiing victims, from France, Italy and Germany, were among a group of 14 who failed to reach a mountain cabin.

Police confirmed two French skiers had died in separate incidents in the French Alps.

An alarm had been raised for the two climbers, but the weather delayed a search on Sunday.

Police gave their ages as 21 and 22, AFP news agency reports. The climbing victims - believed to be Swiss - were found in the Bern canton of the Swiss Alps.

Italian media also reported the death of an Italian mountaineering guide, Mario Castiglioni, who was leading an organised excursion.

A Russian climber is also missing, presumed dead, in the Pennine Alps.

The Swiss Alps were hit by major windstorms and falling temperatures following a period of unseasonably warm weather.

The 14 skiers had set out from the Dix rest-stop along a route known as the Serpentine, aiming to arrive at Vignettes - more than 3,000m (9,850ft) above sea level - later that night.

Caught by bad weather, they were forced to spend the night outside in the Pigne d'Arolla area.

The manager of a cabin in Vignettes sent out a distress call early on Monday morning after they failed to arrive, and seven helicopters were dispatched as part of a search operation.

Police say one died in a fall, three of hypothermia, and a fifth in hospital. Four remain in a serious condition.

The incidents follow the death last month of three Spanish cross-country skiers who were engulfed by an avalanche in the Fiescheralp area of the Swiss Alps.

On 2 April, an avalanche in the French Alps killed mountain guide and doctor Emmanuel Cauchy.

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