Updated March 11th, 2024 at 19:44 IST

Five Skiers Found Dead, One Still Missing in Swiss Alps Tragedy

Search-and-rescue operations commenced on Saturday following the skiers' disappearance near the 3,706-meter-high (12,159 feet) Tête Blanche pass.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Representative image. | Image:AP
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Tragedy struck in the Swiss Alps as the bodies of five missing skiers were discovered on Sunday evening, while rescuers continue to search for a sixth person, local police confirmed on Monday.

The group, comprised of five members of the same family, embarked on their journey from Zermatt, a renowned ski destination, on Saturday morning. They were reported missing in the Tête Blanche region, according to police in the canton of Valais. Ages ranged between 21 and 58 among the skiers, as per an earlier police statement reported by Reuters. The family members hailed from the Valais canton, while the identity of the sixth individual, from the canton of Fribourg, remains undisclosed.

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Here is what you need to know

Alarm was raised by a family member who was supposed to meet the group in the village of Arolla on Saturday afternoon but grew concerned when they failed to arrive.

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Search-and-rescue operations commenced on Saturday following the skiers' disappearance near the 3,706-meter-high (12,159 feet) Tête Blanche pass, on their route to the village of Arolla. 

Extreme weather hampered the search and rescue efforts 

However, treacherous weather conditions hampered rescue efforts significantly. Despite the challenging conditions, a member of the group managed to contact emergency services at 5:19 p.m., pinpointing their location in the Tête Blanche pass area, approximately at an altitude of 3,500 meters (around 11,480 feet).

Efforts to approach the area were thwarted by stormy weather and avalanche risks, preventing helicopters and rescue teams from accessing the region directly. A team of five experienced rescuers attempted an overland approach from Zermatt overnight, but had to halt their efforts at an altitude of over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) due to the perilous conditions.

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The search operation involved specialized units from the Cantonal Police, including mountain groups and technical and telecommunication officers, along with rescuers from the Rescue Organization for the Canton of Valais (OCVS) and the Swiss Air Force.

The Zermatt-Arolla hiking route, where the incident occurred, forms part of the renowned Haute Route trail, linking Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland, offering stunning vistas but also posing challenges to adventurers amidst the rugged Alpine landscape.

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Published March 11th, 2024 at 19:44 IST