United Kingdom

Eight killed in separate avalanches in the Swiss Alps

A British man and an Irish man are among eight people that have been killed in a series of separate avalanches in the Swiss Alps over the last three days. 

The 38-year-old British man, who has not been named, was with nine other people that were engulfed by snow while skiing off piste near Attelas, Verbier, on Monday.

An investigation has been launched into the tragedy which took place at 10.20am and police are appealing for witnesses.

The Irish man, 29, who had been in a group of three, was also killed in an avalanche on Monday in the nearby area of Col des Gentianes at Siviez near Nendaz.

The deaths are two of eight to occur across multiple avalanches since Saturday, with other incidents occurring at Stoos, Klosters, Engelberg, Lac des Vaux near Verbier, Bernese Oberland and Rochers de Naye.

A British man is one of eight people who have been killed in the Swiss Alps following a series of avalanches (stock image) 

The deaths of the British man and the Irish man were two of eight to take place on the Swiss Alps over the last three days, with other incidents occurring Stoos, Klosters, Engelberg, Lac des Vaux near Verbier, Bernese Oberland and Rochers de Naye

On average, 25 people are killed each year in avalanches in Switzerland, according to public health data dating up to 2014. 

Speaking about the avalanche in which the Briton died, a police official said: 'The avalanche occurred outside the piste between the Verbier ski area and 'Les Attelas'.

'At around 10.20am, a skier was driving down a corridor below the 'Attelas' area.

'A snow drift came loose and carried the skier as well as another person who had been further down at the time.'

Police also confirmed that the area where the avalanche occurred is popular among skiers looking to go off piste. 

The British man was a resident of Verbier and his family have been informed. 

Police said both helicopters and dog teams were deployed to locate the nine people caught in the incident. 

All ten of the people caught by the avalanche were wearing GPS locators and emergency services were able to dig out all of the group members.

An investigation has been launched into the tragedy which took place at the Swiss resort of Verbier at 10.20am on Monday (stock image)

However, the British man was declared dead at the scene. 

Another person that was found by emergency services was airlifted to hospital in Sion.

On top of the group of 10 that were engulfed in the avalanche, an additional eight people were caught up in the snow, but escaped unharmed. 

On Sunday, a Swedish man, aged 46, was also killed near the Verbier resort after agreeing to meet his children on the Lac des Vaux area.

He was transported to hospital where he later died from his injuries. 

The resort of Verbier hit headlines last month after it emerged more than 200 Brits had fled during the night to avoid strict Covid quarantine rules. 

Elsewhere a skier was killed after being caught in an avalanche in the Bernese Oberland, near the resort of Gstaad.

The skier had been in a group of three but had been left covered over by the snow. They were rescued but later died in hospital.

Meanwhile in the Rochers de Naye region above the town of Veytaux four people aged between 19 and 21 were skiing off piste when they were caught up in an avalanche.

Two of the group attempted to dig the other group members out from the snow but were only able to find one other person.

A search dog helped locate the fourth group member who later died in hospital. 

Many ski resorts across Europe have been forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, those in Switzerland have been allowed to remain open.  

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