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Search underway for one more skier as five tragically die in Alps after building ‘snow cave’

Search underway for one more skier as five tragically die in Alps after building ‘snow cave’

The skiers went missing on Saturday.

A search is underway for one more skier as five tragically died in the Swiss Alps.

A group of cross-country skiers, five of whom were from the same Swiss family, went missing after setting off on Saturday (9 March).

They’d been travelling a route to the village of Arolla, near the Swiss-Italian border, but a family member alerted police when they didn’t show up as planned in the evening.

Five skiers were found dead after having appeared to try and build themselves a ‘snow cave’ in a tragic attempt to survive.

But the search for the sixth person is still going, while investigations begin into the exact causes of death of the five.

Commander of the Valais regional police, Christian Varone, explained that the six skiers had set off in ‘relatively good' conditions but the situation had quickly deteriorated and became ‘catastrophic’.

Rescuers believe the five found tried to dig a cave in the snow before they died.
Valais Police

Freezing temperatures took hold and there was significant risk of an avalanche.

Varone said the six skiers were between the ages of 21 and 58 and didn’t specify if the skier still missing is one of the family members or not.

A subsequent search picked up a distress call from one of the skiers and identified them as being somewhere on the Tête Blanche mountain at around 11,500ft.

This triggered an immediate search effort, but they were forced to turn back.

Police explain that the next search, hours later, was then suspended because of poor weather conditions.

“We were trying the impossible,” Varone said.

He said efforts were pushed to ‘the extreme, extreme limit’ but had to turn back to avoid ‘seriously endangering the lives of rescue workers’.

“Sometimes you have to bow before nature,” the commander added.

Search efforts were disrupted by the weather.
Valais Police

As Swiss prosecutors say an investigation into the death of the five skiers is underway, the search for the sixth continues.

Varone said: “As long as there is hope we will keep going... while remaining realistic in view of the conditions this person has been in for the past 48 hours.”

The five skiers’ bodies were found on Sunday 'without any signs of life', with the head of the rescue operation telling Swiss media that the five appeared to have attempted to dig a 'snow cave' to protect themselves from the cold.

They said: "The picture we found was ugly. We saw that the ski tourers had tried to build a cave and protect themselves from the wind.

"The ski tourers froze to death at altitude, disorientated."

The 75-mile long route the six skiers were attempting to traverse takes several days and is only recommended for experience skiers.

Featured Image Credit: Valais Police

Topics: World News