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Sharp rise in mountain deaths in Swiss Alps

the Matterhorn, near Zermatt
So far this summer ten people have died attempting to climb the Matterhorn, near Zermatt KEYSTONE/ VALENTIN FLAURAUD

The number of fatal accidents in the Swiss Alps during the first six months of 2018 is double that of the same period last year, according to intermediate figures from the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC).

On Sunday, an NZZ am Sonntag reportExternal link showed that between January and June 2018, 80 people died climbing or skiing in the Swiss Alps – the highest level since the turn of the century.

Thirty-eight people died during the first six months of 2017, while the annual average is around 45.

As most fatal mountain accidents generally occur between July and August and the summer temperatures were perfect for high-altitude climbs, 2018 looks set to be a record year. Already ten people died this summer trying to scale the Matterhorn, near Zermatt.

There are numerous factors behind this year’s spike in fatalities. There were several major incidents, such as at Arolla in May, and numerous avalanches caused by unusually high levels of snow. Experts say people venturing into the mountains sometimes overestimate their abilities, bring inappropriate equipment and are insufficiently prepared.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR