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Weather and COVID restrictions lead to France avalanche death toll doubling

Chairlifts are stopped to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the ski resort of Val d'Isere, France, Dec. 18, 2020.
Chairlifts are stopped to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the ski resort of Val d'Isere, France, Dec. 18, 2020. Copyright AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti
Copyright AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti
By Euronews with AFP
Published on
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Thirty-nine people were killed in avalanches in France this winter, compared to an average of 20 annually over the past five decades.

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Thirty-nine people were killed in avalanches in France this winter, a toll much higher than in previous years due in part to COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the National Association for Snow and Avalanche Research (ANENA), this winter's death toll is nearly double the average observed yearly over the past five decades.

The increase is blamed on Nordic skiing, which saw a resurgence this year as ski lifts in France were closed for most of the season as part of measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus. The practice was behind 27 of this year's 29 deadly accidents and 37 deaths.

The weather was another key factor with "generally unstable snow cover for much of the season" in the Alps" throughout the season.

Most of the victims were experienced skiers while some were first aiders or experienced mountaineers.

ANENA said that the unfavourable conditions and COVID-19 restrictions did not discourage skiers but that the closure of ski lifts meant that not all ski areas had been made safe.

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