British skier among nine killed in avalanches at Swiss resort of Verbier

Henry Samuel
·2-min read
Verbier
Verbier

A Briton is among seven people who have been killed in the Swiss Alps following a series of avalanches in what local media called a “black weekend” for skiers.

The 38-year-old, who has not been named, was skiing off-piste on Monday morning with another person when a huge section of snow became detached from the mountain in Verbier, engulfing the pair and another eight skiers further down the slopes.

The tragedy took place at 10.20am at the Funispace off-piste section.

The British man, who was a resident of Verbier according to Swiss reports, could not be revived but the second skier was recovered in a serious condition and taken by helicopter nearby Sion hospital. His family have been informed.

The other skiers all came out unscathed. All ten were equipped with GPS avalanche victim detectors, said local mountain police, who issued a call for witnesses.

An investigation has been launched.

The death is one of seven to occur across multiple avalanches in the Alps, with other incidents occurring at Emmetten, Engelberg, Klosters, Morschach, Veytaux and the Bernese Oberland.

Police spokesman Mathias Volken said: “We have had a lot of snow here and the avalanche risk at the time was three out of five which means considerable danger.”

He also said that the area where the avalanche occurred was a popular spot for off-piste skiers.

Police confirmed the avalanche took place in an area between the village and Les Attelas and that both helicopters and dog teams had been deployed.

In the last three days, several avalanches have taken place, during which a 29-year-old Irish man, also a Verbier resident, was also killed near the col des Gentianes in Siviez. He was not carrying anti-avalanche equipment, which delayed efforts to locate him under several metres of snow. Three colleagues survived.

According to Swiss mountain rescue there have been 77 avalanches this year involving 104 people.