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Swiss Alps: Six die in bad weather

Swiss Alps: Six die in bad weather
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By Lesley Alexander
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Four skiers and two climbers perished in separate incidents at the end of a tragic winter season in the mountains.

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Six people have died and five others are in a serious condition in hospital after bad weather forced them to spend a night outdoors in the Swiss Alps.

Four of the dead were in a party of Italian, German and French skiers on a trek in the Pigne d’Arolla area in the canton of Valais.

Caught in a storm, they failed to reach a mountain cabin where they were expected to arrive on Sunday.

Rescuers found the group, one of whom was already dead. Several others were suffering from hypothermia.

Mountain guide Pascal Gaspoz of 'Air-Glaciers' said:

"The skiers were grouped within 30 metres of each other. They were trying to protect each other from the wind as best they could. They weren't very far away, about 400-500 metres from the hut as the crow flies, so relatively close, but far enough away, unfortunately, for their cries for help not to have been heard."

Separately, the bodies of two climbers, aged 21 and 22, were found on Monday morning in the Swiss Alps. Initial police reports suggested they had probably died of cold and exhaustion.

Also on Monday, a hiker and a skier died near Mount Blanc in the French Alps after being caught out by bad weather.

This year's winter skiing season has seen a rise in fatalities of almost 50 percent in France. Heavy snow followed by high temperatures is thought to have contributed.

At least 35 people have lost their lives in the French Alps over the season, with at least 25 other deaths in the Swiss Alps.

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