Eight Climbers Missing After Mont Blanc Avalanche

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The New York Sun

PARIS — At least eight climbers were missing presumed dead in the French Alps Saturday after an avalanche caused Europe’s worst mountaineering disaster in more than a decade.

A block of ice snapped off the 13,900-foot Mont-Blanc du Tacul in the early hours Saturday, unleashing a vast wall of snow that crashed into a party of climbers tackling the peak, which is part of the Mont Blanc range that straddles the French-Italian frontier.

Amid fears of another avalanche that would put rescue teams at risk, an intensive search for five missing Austrians and three Swiss nationals was called off last night.

The French interior minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, said that there was “no longer any chance of finding someone alive.”

There remains the possibility that there could be more climbers who are unaccounted for. “Thanks to technology, we know for certain there are people buried under the snow, but it’s impossible to be sure exactly how many,” she said.

Ten other climbers — five Italians and five French — were airlifted to a hospital in the resort of Chamonix after being dug out of the snow suffering from broken bones, fractures, and hypothermia.

The party, who was roped together, had set off before dawn in what police called “excellent” weather conditions en route to Mont Blanc itself when disaster struck. An Italian survivor, Marco Delfini, who was recovering last night, said he saw “a wall of ice coming towards us and then we were carried 200 metres.”

The New York Sun

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