Two British climbers found dead on Matterhorn

The Matterhorn mountain Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The Matterhorn is in the Alps, on the Swiss-Italian border

The bodies of two British climbers who went missing on Thursday have been found on the Matterhorn, Italian rescue workers have said.

They said both bodies were found in a ravine at an altitude of 4,000m.

A search and rescue effort began late on Thursday, but emergency services were hampered by bad weather on Friday.

It is believed that the pair, who have not been named, were surprised by unseasonably cold weather, and reports suggest one was wearing light clothing.

A member of the Italian mountain rescue said: "We have had a rapid change in the weather.

"On Thursday afternoon and overnight into Friday we had a lot of storms with snows in the high altitudes."

The Matterhorn straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy and the Britons had been ascending the rocky Cresta del Leone ridge on its southern side, the standard route up for climbers.

The climbers are thought to have told rescue services of their planned route before setting off, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes said.

But she said weather conditions made it impossible for rescuers to fly to their location on Thursday night or Friday morning.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of two British nationals in Mount Cervino [the Matterhorn], Italy and we are in touch with local authorities."