Four dead in French ski resort avalanche

Rescue workers are continuing to search for people swept down the mountain by the avalanche

[BBC] – At least four people have died in an avalanche at the ski resort of Tignes in south-eastern France, rescuers say.

The group, including a guide, was buried after the wall of snow swept through an off-piste area, local police say. A search is still underway for anyone else caught up in the disaster.

The 400-metre (1,300ft) wide avalanche occurred at an altitude of 2,100 metres, and struck at a particularly busy time during half-term holidays. Early reports originally suggested there were nine in the group but local police have now told the BBC the other five are safe after failing to join the excursion.

The resort is popular with British holidaymakers, but local police said the four dead were all French nationals. The avalanche appeared to have been set off by a group of skiers higher up, the ski station said in a statement.

Rescue services deployed two helicopters as well as sniffer dogs to help search for those missing. There are about 40 people involved in the rescue operation. The incident is the worst in France since the beginning of this year’s ski season.

The avalanche warning level at Tignes on Monday was three out of five, France’s Dauphine Libere reported. There were 13 previous skiing accidents in the Alps and Pyrenees this winter, killing three people. Last winter, there were 45 accidents, causing 21 deaths.