Avalanche victims identified

Ski tourers killed in an avalanche in southwestern Switzerland on Friday have been identified as two Austrians and one German.

This content was published on April 2, 2011 - 13:56 and agencies

The victims were aged between 35 and 56, Vaud cantonal police said on Saturday.

Rescuers said the avalanche in mountains near Ayer was “gigantic”, around 500 metres long and 500 metres across. It swept away nine people in all – one person is injured and five managed to escape.

Police said those who escaped raised the alarm but despite the rapid response by rescuers, two people were already dead by the time they were recovered. The third died later from his injuries.

The group were not accompanied by a guide but were all equipped with avalanche detectors.

The incident happened close to where five French snowshoers and cross-country skiers were killed in a snowslide less than a week earlier. All were members of the Cluses alpine club in France 
In France, around 1,000 people attended the joint funerals of the victims on Saturday. "This tragic reality reminds us that we must remain humble in the face of nature's elements," Georges Elizères, head of the French alpine club, told those present.

Warmer weather means avalanches are common in the Alps in spring.

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