Nine climbers were killed Thursday in one of the worst avalanches in recent years in the French Alps. The avalanche took place at around 4,000 metres on the slopes of Mont Maudit, one of three routes used by climbers ascending Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.
The prefecture of Haute-Savoie region confirmed the nine victims as three Germans, three Britons, two Spaniards and one Swiss citizen.
Four other climbers, two British and two Spanish, who had been reported missing turned up safe in the afternoon.
The two British climbers had begun ascending Mont Blanc via another route but then turned back, escaping the avalanche, police in Chamonix resort said.
The two Spaniards had swapped their places in the mountain refuge where the climbers spent the night before beginning the ascent with the two Spaniards who were killed in the avalance, the police said.
Fifteen people were treated in a nearby hospital for minor injuries, a spokesman for the local prefecture told dpa.
The alarm was raised by one of the injured climbers around 5.35 am (0335 GMT), about three hours after they began their climb.
French and Italian rescue workers rushed to the area by helicopter. Six bodies were found in the initial search. Another three bodies were recovered by noon.
The cause of the avalanche was unclear. The weather forecast for Thursday had been described as favourable. No avalanche warning had been issued.
Rescue workers said one of the climbers might have dislodged a sheet of snow.
The last accident of this magnitude in the French Alps dates to August 2008 when eight climbers were killed on another route up Mont Blanc.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women