Rescue teams in Canton Valais have retrieved the bodies of three people who were buried under snow by two avalanches on Saturday. The Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research has issued warnings to skiers, citing heavy snowfall and strong winds.
More than 80 rescue workers and 10 trained dogs on Sunday combed the resort of Zinal to find the bodies of two avalanche rescuers and a young woman from Zurich.
The young woman had been descending the slopes on Saturday afternoon with a group of mountain climbers when a block of snow dislodged and swept her away.
A search party of around 10 was dispatched to try to find her when disaster struck again. Two hours later, a second and more powerful avalanche occurred, carrying away the rescue team.
Some managed to free themselves while others were rescued from the snow. However, two rescuers were found dead on Sunday afternoon.
A magistrate in the canton has opened an enquiry into the tragedy.
According to the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos, between 15 and 30 centimetres of snow fell in the area on Saturday afternoon alone. It said snow continued to fall throughout the night.
The institute said the danger of avalanches in the canton is "strong".
Seven people have reportedly died in avalanches in Switzerland this season.
swissinfo with agencies