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German billionaire missing in Swiss Alps

Karl-Erivan Haub, heir to the Tengelmann retail empire, was training for a ski race when he disappeared on the Matterhorn.

Authorities in Switzerland and Italy are searching for a German billionaire who has been missing in the Alps since the weekend, when he failed to return from a ski excursion on the Matterhorn.

Karl-Erivan Haub, heir to the Tengelmann retail empire, was training for a ski race when he disappeared on Switzerland’s famous peak, located on the border with Italy.

Tengelmann spokeswoman Sieglinde Schuchardt said there was no news yet on the fate of the 58-year-old, who was an experienced skier and mountaineer.

Mr Haub was skiing on his own in an area with glaciers and could have fallen into a crevasse, said Bruno Jelk, an experienced mountain rescue expert based in Zermatt who has been advising on the search efforts.

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“The big problem is it’s not known specifically where he went missing,” Mr Jelk said.

“It’s a huge area and there are a lot of possibilities. I’d say he must have fallen into a crevasse but there are a lot of them and it’s hard to know which one.”

He said fresh snow and windy conditions have made it even more difficult for searchers to pick up on any traces of Mr Haub’s path.

Mr Haub’s family raised the alarm after he did not show up at his hotel in Zermatt on Saturday afternoon, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

The head of mountain rescue services in Italy’s Aosta valley, Adriano Favre, was quoted by Blick as saying that bad weather and high avalanche risk on the Italian side forced a six-person team to interrupt their search on Tuesday.

Swiss rescue service Air Zermatt said their search was ongoing.

Italy’s alpine rescue service was also involved, with a team heading from Teodulo towards Furggen and ending at the Duca of the Abruzzi refuge.

Spokesman Tiziano Trevisan said poor weather conditions were limiting helicopter search options.

Mr Haub – who was born in Tacoma, Washington – and his brother Christian have led the company since 2000.

The family’s fortune is estimated at more than three billion euros (£2.6 billion).

Family patriarch Erivan Haub died in March at his home in Wyoming.

Tengelmann’s main businesses are the hardware store Obi and clothing retailer KiK. It also has large stakes in the Netto supermarket chain and online retailer Zalando.

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