Seven dead in French Alps avalanche

Seven people were killed Tuesday when an avalanche swept them away in the French Alps, a local official told AFP, one of the deadliest snowslides to hit France over the past decade.

The avalanche struck around midday at the Snow Dome in the Alps’ Massif des Ecrins, an easy-to-access 4,015m high mountain that is hugely popular with climbers.

Rescuers, backed by three helicopters and sniffer dogs, were dispatched to the scene but local official Pierre Besnard said search operations had now ended and the climbers’ bodies were being transported down.

Prosecutor Raphael Balland said four of the victims were German and three were from the Czech Republic.

Another German woman was injured and was being treated in hospital, he added.

Climbers and skiers are sporadically caught in avalanches in the popular Alps, particularly during the winter season.

At least 39 people have died in snowslides this year in France, according to the National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches.

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