Kin of French avalanche victims crowdfund to cover ‘rescue’ costs

The body of a Swiss skier carried away by the avalanche has yet to be found Keystone

The cost of the search and rescue operations to find three French skiers carried away by an avalanche last Friday in canton Valais is estimated at CHF100,000 ($105,492). The friends and family of three victims are appealing for donations. 

This content was published on March 22, 2018 - 14:27

"This pot aims at covering the costs of searches carried out by the rescue services to find our loved ones carried away by an avalanche in the region of Valais in Switzerland, as well as their repatriation," reads the appeal on an internet platform. 

So far, the campaign has managed to raise more than €38,000 (CHF44,360). The costs of the search operations will be divided among the insurers of the deceased, but companies often make a distinction between rescue and search expenses when it comes to reimbursement.

Dozens of rescuers and several helicopters – costing CHF6,000 per hour of flight – were deployed, said Jean-Marc Bellagamba, director of the Canton Valais Rescue Organisation. The search began last Friday afternoon, just after the avalanche carried away four skiers in the Vallon d'Arbi region near the popular Verbier ski resort in the French-speaking part of southwest Switzerland. 

Suspended and then relaunched, the search operation at 2,200 metres’ altitude (7,218 feet) continued until Wednesday, resulting in the discovery of the bodies of three French skiers. Police indicated that the search for the remaining missing person – a Swiss man from canton Vaud – would continue with regular inspections of the area over the next few weeks. 

A total of six skiers were carried away by the avalanche, but two of them managed to be rescued soon after.

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