The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Circumstances of the ski tourers’ deaths in Valais unclear

The cause of death of the five ski tourers who died in the Valais Alps at the weekend is still unclear. According to the police, it is not yet possible to say whether the alpinists froze to death or were killed by an avalanche.

The public prosecutor's office has launched an investigation into the exact circumstances of the drama, said Attorney General Béatrice Pilloud at a media conference in Sion on Monday morning. The formal identification of the victims is also still underway.

It is known that five of the ski tourers belonged to a family from Valais and one victim came from the city of Fribourg, said police commander Christian Varone. According to earlier police reports, the mountaineers were aged between 21 and 58.

The search for the missing sixth person continues. "We are searching in the area around the Tête Blanche," said Varone.

After receiving the alarm, all the emergency services involved did everything they could to rescue the missing, Varone continued. However, the extreme weather, combined with poor visibility and the risk of avalanches, had made it impossible for a long time for the rescuers to reach the missing persons once they had been located. The temperatures were extremely low.

The six ski tourers had set off on a tour from Zermatt to Arolla VS on Saturday. The rescue organization received an alarm late Saturday afternoon. Five of them were found lifeless late Sunday evening in the Tête Blanche mountain area at an altitude of 3,500 meters.

©Keystone/SDA

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