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

image copyrightEPA
image captionPolice 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.

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