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Three more climbers die on Monte Rosa massif

Three more climbers have died near Switzerland's highest mountain. It's the second such tragedy in 24 hours after a collapsed snow cornice sent three other mountaineers plunging to their deaths on Sunday.

Two of the climbers who died Monday morning were attempting to summit the 4,092 metre (13,425-foot) Pollux peak when they slipped on an ice sheet and fell several hundred metres. The other was on the way to the Castor peak in the same group of mountains. 

The three climbers killed Sunday died in a fall of 800 metres from the southern, Italian side of Signalkuppe, a 4,554-metre peak along the Swiss-Italian border in the Pennine Alps, according to rescuers. In Italy, the peak is known as Punta Gnifetti.

It is part of the huge snow and glacial ice-covered Monte Rosa massif, whose highest point is the 4,634-metre (15,203 feet) Dufourspitze, Switzerland’s tallest mountain. The summit of the Signalkuppe also is home to the Margherita Hut, Europe’s highest building, operated by the Italian Alpine Club.

Unsafe snow

Italian rescue teams brought down five survivors from Sunday's accident. It was caused by a snow cornice that collapsed beneath the climbers, according to Italy’s Aosta Valley Mountain Rescue, a public service that employs climbers and helicopters.

Other climbers who witnessed the accident sounded the alarm, Italian news agency ANSA reported. The victims' identities had not yet been disclosed.

Because of unsafe snow conditions the rescuers have been unable to recover the bodies of the three climbers who were part of an eight-member roped team, the rescue service’s Tiziano Trevisan told Swiss News Agency SDA. He said they hope to return to retrieve the bodies as soon as possible.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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