Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Tue September 15 2015

Avalanche in French Alps Kills Seven Climbers

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | September 15, 2015

Avalanche in French Alps Kills Seven Climbers

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Seven climbers were swept away and killed by an avalanche on a popular, accessible peak in the French Alps Tuesday, the Agence France-Presse reported.

The snowslide struck around midday at the 13,170-foot high Snow Dome in the Alps' Massif des Ecrins, according to the AFP. Prosecutor Raphael Balland told the news agency four of the victims were from Germany and three from the Czech Republic. Balland added that a German woman was injured and hospitalized.

Christian Flagella, police force member in the Hautes-Alpes region — the mountain’s home, said to the AFP the avalanche occurred in "winter-like conditions," which caused a layer of snow to separate and rocket downward.

Rescuer Nicolas Colombani also commented about the cold-weather conditions, saying to the AFP that a lot of snow had fallen during the weekend, especially at high elevations.

In the aftermath of what the AFP called one of the deadliest avalanches to hit France this decade, helicopters and sniffer dogs converged on the scene. But local official Pierre Besnard told the AFP that search operations had ceased and climbers’ bodies were being removed from the mountain.

Citing a statistic from the National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches, the AFP said at least 39 people have died in avalanches this year in France.

January saw six skiers killed by a snowslide in the Alps’ Queyras mountain range, and two months later, two Austrians and an Italian were swept away in the Massif des Ecrins. But this was the worst accident of 2015 so far, according to the AFP.

The AFP said Tuesday’s Snow Dome snowslide occurred on a section of mountain that draws amateurs because advanced technical skills are not required.

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