Search ends for Mont Blanc climbers

A search has been called off for three Swiss climbers and five Austrians who went missing after an avalanche on Mont Blanc.

This content was published on August 24, 2008 minutes

The authorities in France's Haute-Savoie region said there was a pre-dawn avalanche on the northern face of Mont Blanc on Sunday.

It was set off by a falling block of ice and gathered pace at around 3,600 metres altitude.

The missing party were roped together when the avalanche struck. Five French and three Italian climbers were injured and taken to nearby hospitals in Chamonix and Sallanches.

A search was carried out on Sunday involving three helicopters, 40 rescue workers, 14 alpine guides and sniffer dogs but had to be stopped for fear of triggering further movement in the snow.

After viewing the area by helicopter, French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said there was "no chance of finding anyone alive".

The avalanche crossed a route regularly used by climbers. A police spokesman said the meteorological conditions on the mountain had been excellent during the night.

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