Death toll from Swiss Alps avalanche rises to four

Death toll from Swiss Alps avalanche rises to four

GENEVA - The death toll from an avalanche that swept away a group of Italian skiers in the Swiss Alps has risen to four after a man died from his injuries, police said Sunday.

The man was part of the group hit by an avalanche on Saturday while in an area of the Swiss Alps known as "Death Valley." Two women and two men were killed while a fifth skier was wounded. A sixth member of the group was not swept away and escaped unharmed.

All of those involved were either 51 or 52 years old and from the Milan region.

They were skiing cross-country near a guesthouse in the Great Saint-Bernard Pass, not far from the Italian border, when a massive sheet of snow dislodged and swept them away.

The accident happened at an altitude of around 2,300 metres, and weather conditions and thick fog complicated the rescue operation.

Rescuers managed to locate the skiers, who were all carrying avalanche victim detectors. Some were buried under as much as 2.5 metres (eight feet) of snow.

Avalanches are taking a heavy toll in the Swiss Alps this winter season, killing at least 25 people, including Saturday's deaths.

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