Three killed, two injured in Valais avalanche

Emergency operations were a joint effort between Valais cantonal police, Air Zermatt and local search and rescue services. Keystone

Police in the southwestern canton of Valais have confirmed that three off-piste skiers, all of Spanish nationality, were killed in an avalanche Saturday afternoon. Two other members of the same group have been rescued alive and with minor injuries.

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The avalanche was triggered Saturday afternoon at an altitude of about 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) between the municipality of Fiesch and the Fiescheralp ski resort, near the Aletsch glacier.

All group members were wearing detection devices for avalanche victims, which enabled the two injured skiers to be rescued and helicoptered to hospital by Air Zermatt.

 + Read about the latest statistics on Swiss mountain deaths

The three deceased skiers were also located on Saturday, but due to deteriorating weather conditions and the suspension of search and rescue operations overnight, their bodies were not recovered until midday on Sunday.  

According to a Valais cantonal police spokesperson, the Spanish foreign ministry has confirmed that all five group members came from Spain. Their formal identification is currently being established in cooperation with the authorities in Madrid.

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