Four skiers have died in the Swiss Alps and another five are in a serious condition after an unexpected snow storm forced them to spend the night outdoors.
Several of those rescued were suffering from hypothermia, with three dying in the hospital. A fourth was reportedly killed in a fall. Police gave their ages as 21 and 22.
“Fourteen skiers who were trapped by bad weather were forced to spend the night outside in the Pigne d’Arolla area” of the Swiss Alps, police in the canton of Valais said in a statement.
A preliminary investigation found the victims were part of two separate groups of tourers that were crossing from Chamonix to the Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt on the 50-mile long Haute Route along the Italian border. The group set out from the Dix rest-stop along a route known as the Serpentine and had been trying to reach the Vignettes hikers hut at 10,357ft when they were caught off-guard by high winds and snow.
The manager of a cabin in Vignettes sent out a distress call early on Monday morning after they failed to arrive, triggering a relief operation. Police in Valais in south-western Switzerland said seven helicopters were used to rescue the 14 hikers who were from France, Germany, and Italy.
It’s being reported that one of the deceased skiers was the guide.
The Swiss Alps were hit by major wind storms and falling temperatures following a period of unseasonably warm weather.