British climber finds six dead in French Alps
VILLAR-D’ARENE, France — An English climber on Sunday found the bodies of six mountaineers in the French Alps who appeared to have died after a fall caused by an avalanche of snow and stones, officials said.
The bodies found on Neige Cordier summit at 2,700 metres (8,850 feet) were taken by helicopter to the nearby village of Villar d’Arene, village mayor Xavier Cret told AFP.
“The victims were climbing roped together in two groups. It looks like there was a slide of snow and stones mixed together,” he said, adding that it appeared that they had died on Saturday after a fall of around 200 metres.
Officials did not state the nationality of the dead climbers.
The English hiker stumbled across the bodies as he was taking the same route that they had taken a day before, mountain rescue police said.
The climbers left a mountain hut on Saturday morning to climb Neige Cordier, officials said.
Their bodies were found in a narrow, steep-sided ravine that is regularly used by skiers in winter and climbers in summer.
Weather conditions in the Alps this weekend were good, with sunshine and clear skies.
Police have opened an inquiry into the incident, one of the worst such cases in recent years in France. In June 2007, five climbers from the same family died after a fall on a nearby mountain.
Senior officials were due to give a press conference on the Neige Cordier incident at 1400 GMT.