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Three skiers die in gigantic Swiss avalanche

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Three skiers die in gigantic Swiss avalanche
Rescuers at the avalanche site. Photo: DPA/Wallis Canton Police
09:35 CEST+02:00
Three men from south-western Germany were killed on Friday after their ski group was caught up in what rescuers said was a gigantic avalanche in the Swiss mountains.

Six of the nine-strong group of ski hikers were completely buried by the avalanche as it thundered down the mountain above Ayer in Val d'Anniviers in the Wallis Canton on Friday morning.

Those not buried were able to quickly locate their friends and largely dig them out, the Deutsche Alpenverein (DAV) reported.

But despite this, and the rapid arrival of mountain rescue teams via helicopter, two of the ski hikers died at the scene, while a third died later of his injuries in a local hospital.

The DAV said the three men who died were aged 34, 47 and 56, two of whom were from Immenstaad and another from Kressbronn, in the Friedrichshafen area.

A DAV crisis intervention team was expected to arrive in Switzerland over the weekend to offer support to the surviving members of the group.

The avalanche, which occurred at 9.45am at an altitude of around 2,500 metres, was considered to be extraordinarily large, with rescuers saying it had a front about 500 metres wide and was at least as long.

It even set off another, smaller avalanche nearby. The avalanche warning status in the region at the time was between 2 (average) and 3 (marked) on the five-point scale. It is currently the ski touring high season.

Five hikers from a French mountaineering club were killed and five more injured last Saturday while another is still missing feared dead after a group of 11 people were hit by an avalanche further west in the Valais region.

DAPD/AFP/hc

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