At least one person has been killed in an avalanche that has hit the Valfrejus ski resort in the south-east of France. The fatality is believed to be a Dutch tourist. Rescuers are still searching for a further two missing people, who are also believed to be Dutch.
The avalanche struck the resort on Tuesday, and authorities were alerted when the body of a snowboarder was found on an off-piste area of the resort. Dutch media are reporting that a friend of the three men, who are all aged between 20 and 25, received a text message from one of the party saying that they were lost.
A search party was sent out for the three men on Tuesday evening, but poor visibility resulted in rescue attempts being put on hold at midnight local time. The search has continues this morning.
The news comes just one day after reports of an avalanche hitting the French resort of Tignes. The avalanche risk in the area at the time was four out-of five, which signifies significant danger. While avalanches are relatively common in off-piste areas, this one was particularly shocking at it affected an easy blue run – a groomed area of the piste that should, in theory, be safe from danger.
The affected run is particularly popular with young families, and authorities initially feared the worst when the avalanche struck. However, rescuers examined every metre of the slope, and confirmed that there were no casualties.
Again, rescue efforts in Tignes were hampered by difficult conditions that made it impossible for helicopters to fly over the resort, which was immediately closed to the public while the search was underway.
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those killed and everyone effected by this tragic news.