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More deaths in Swiss Alps

The number of people who died in Swiss mountain accidents last year rose sharply. Two disasters - an avalanche in canton Valais and a canyoning tragedy -were primarily responsible for the increased number of deaths.

The number of people who died in Swiss mountain accidents last year rose sharply. Two disasters - an avalanche in canton Valais and a canyoning tragedy -were primarily responsible for the increased number of deaths.

A total of 115 people died in alpine accidents in 1999 - an increase of eight per cent. The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) also mounted 20 per cent more rescue operations than in 1998.

The canyoning accident in July in Saxetbach, near Interlaken, in which 21 people, mostly foreign tourists, died, as well as a deadly avalanche in Evolene, canton Valais, which claimed 12 lives, were the main reasons for the steep rise in the death toll.

More than 1300 people were rescued by the club and its partner organisations, according to a statement by the SAC. Taking parachuting and other air sports into account, nearly 1500 people had to be rescued.

The increase in the number of rescue operations was mainly due to the series of avalanches, caused by unusually heavy snowfalls last winter. But rescue teams were also in action to help in other kinds of accidents, including mountainbiking, mushroom collecting and hiking.

swissinfo with agencies

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