“Surviving Avalanche in Swiss and French Alps during Easter Weekend Skiing”

Surviving Avalanche in Swiss and French Alps during Easter Weekend Skiing
Surviving Avalanche in Swiss and French Alps during Easter Weekend Skiing
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Nine ski hikers have survived a major avalanche in the Swiss Alps on Saturday, with only light to moderate injuries. The group had been near the summit of the Alphubel mountain in the Saas-Fee area of the southwestern Wallis canton, close to the Italian border, when the avalanche occurred. According to a statement from the Wallis police, the avalanche was triggered while several groups were skiing at an altitude of 4,000 metres, and several people were swept away by the mass of snow.

Emergency services quickly responded to the scene, with several helicopters deployed to help. A total of sixteen people had been ski touring in the area, and all were safely taken off the mountain. Nine were airlifted to hospitals in the nearby towns of Visp and Sion, with three of them able to leave after outpatient treatment. The remaining six people were kept in the hospital for overnight observation, although the police spokesman said that their injuries were light, and the prognosis was positive. The other seven people on the mountain were unaffected by the avalanche or were able to extricate themselves uninjured and were also airlifted off the mountain.

The Wallis Alps had been on high alert due to the large number of winter sports enthusiasts taking advantage of the favourable weather over the Easter holiday long weekend. According to the Switzerland’s Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), the avalanche risk for Saturday was 2+ (moderate) in southern Wallis, on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (very high). The SLF also reported that fifteen people had died in avalanches in Switzerland between October 1, 2022 and March 31 this year, with one person still missing. The figure is close to the 20-year average of 17 deaths.

Meanwhile, at least four people have died, and nine others have been injured in an avalanche in the French Alps, with the incident occurring when a group of backcountry skiers were caught in the snowslide. The avalanche happened on Sunday, in the middle of the day at the Armancette glacier, at the altitude of around 3,500 meters (11,500 feet), which is located in the Haute-Savoie region, some 30 kilometers (almost 20 miles) southwest of Chamonix. Chamonix, a small town at the base of the Mont Blanc, is a popular vacation spot over France’s long Easter weekend.

According to Emmanuel Coquand, a spokesperson for the local authorities of Haute-Savoie, the avalanche was extensive. The local France-Bleu radio station put the size of the avalanche at 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) long and 100 meters (328 feet) wide. Two helicopters were sent to help in the search, according to the station, which quoted the local prefecture in Thonon. French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his condolences, and rescue workers are continuing to search for further casualties.

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