France avalanche: Three skiers killed in Pyrenees

Cauterets resort in the Pyrenees mountains of France Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The three men were skiing in an off-piste area of the resort, officials said (file photo)

Three skiers have been found dead in a resort in south-western France after being buried by an avalanche in an off-piste area, officials say.

The three French men, one aged 29 and two 38, had gone missing on Wednesday night in the Cauterets resort in the Pyrenees mountains.

On Tuesday, a 19-year-old skier died in an avalanche in the resort of Gavarnie, also in the Pyrenees.

Officials warn of the risks of going off-piste, where most accidents happen.

This year has seen heavy snowfall in the region and also across the Alps.

The bad weather reportedly continued in the Pyrenees and some lifts were closed.

How dangerous is off-piste skiing?

  • Off-piste refers to any area not marked out and maintained for use by skiers
  • Off-piste slopes are not groomed by snow ploughs, so rocks, precipices and cliffs may not be easy to spot, especially in poor visibility
  • Biggest risk is avalanches as pistes are usually protected by controlled explosions and snow ploughs
  • But ski resorts do not have the same responsibilities for off-piste areas

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