4 Snowboarders Dead in French Alps Avalanche

Associated Press
Published: February 13, 2017

Four skiers have been killed in an avalanche that struck a popular ski area near the French Alps resort of Tignes.

French authorities initially believe that more skiers had been caught in the disaster, but told the Associated Press the victims had been accidently entered into the skiing database twice.

In this image made available by Victor Diwisch rescue personnel work at the site of an avalanche at Lavachet Wall in Tignes, France, Monday Feb. 13, 2017. French rescue workers say a number of skiers have been killed in an avalanche in the French Alps near the resort of Tignes. It occurred in an area popular among international skiers for its extensive slopes and stunning views, but no information was immediately available about the skiers' nationalities.
(Victor Diwisch via AP)
"We lament the four deceased victims and we think there will be only four ... The search continues. It was an avalanche of a huge scale," said Albertville Deputy Prefect Nicolas Martrenchard.

The Republican Company for Alps Security in the town of Albertville said the group had been skiing off piste near Tignes when the avalanche hit Monday. It occurred in an area popular among international skiers for its extensive slopes and stunning views

All four fatalities — a 49-year-old instructor, a 48-year-old father, his 15-year-old son and a 19-year-old half-brother — are believed to be French but were not identified by officials by name.

They had been walking off piste — snowboards in hand — with a guide near the main Tignes slopes when the avalanche hit, Martrenchard said, adding that they were equipped with locator devices.

(MORE: Winter Storm Orson Blasting New England With Heavy Snow)

An Alps Security rescue worker said the bodies of the four dead had been retrieved by early afternoon. He said about 40 people had working on the rescue, which involved helicopters and local ski instructors.

The avalanche risk in the area was evaluated at three on a five-point scale. Other slopes at the resort were still open on Monday, the first day of the British winter school holidays.

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