Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Six climbers die in French Alps

Search helicopters are looking for six climbers who went missing on Mont Blanc

Six French climbers died in a fall on France's Mont Blanc after a night of snow and wind on western Europe's tallest mountain.

August is the height of the climbing season on Mont Blanc, where even in the warmest months storms can strike quickly.

High winds buffeted the area where the group fell, said Jean-Baptiste Estachy, head of the Mont Blanc rescue squad.

Mr Estachy said five bodies were found this morning and the body of the sixth victim was later pulled out from the bottom of a crevasse.

The six included five experienced climbers and a guide. An investigation to uncover the exact cause of the accident is under way.

The climbers were taking part in a two-week mountaineering course with the guide and were reported missing overnight when they failed to return to a refuge.

They had been on a planned trip to the Aiguille d'Argentiere, which tops out around 12,800ft (3,900m).

Mont Blanc, in addition to its primary peak, contains some 200 summits and touches France, Switzerland and Italy.

Thousands try to climb its peaks each year and an average of 59 people are killed annually in accidents on its slopes, according to the Chamoniarde, a safety association.

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