France Alps: Mont Blanc avalanche kills three climbers

File photo of Mont Blanc Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mont Blanc (seen in this file photo) is popular with climbers but is Europe's deadliest mountain

Searchers have found the bodies of two women climbers and their male guide on Mont Blanc in the French Alps after an avalanche early on Tuesday.

Search dogs found the bodies of an Anglo-Polish woman, 33, and a Slovak woman, 32, on Wednesday. Their German guide, 50, was located on Thursday.

They were climbing 4,100m (13,450ft) Mont Maudit, a Mont Blanc summit, when they were swept away by collapsing ice.

It took some 36 hours before the alarm was raised over their disappearance.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said an investigation would be launched into the circumstances of the incident.

Stephane Bozon, head of the local mountain rescue team, said his team had only been alerted on Wednesday evening.

Two other groups of climbers who had been in the same area had said no-one had been buried by the avalanche.

Some 15 rescuers, two dogs and a helicopter were mobilised in the rescue, and chainsaws used to free the victims from the ice.

The Mont Blanc massif is popular with walkers and climbers but is Europe's deadliest mountain range, claiming some 50 lives each year.

Mr Cazeneuve said there had been eight fatal mountain accidents in France since last Saturday alone, the Associated Press news agency reports.

A British skydiver died after his parachute failed to open during a jump near Sallanches, close to Mont Blanc, on 7 August.

David Reader, 25, suffered severe head injuries and died in hospital in Annecy the next day.

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