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12 People Died in Avalanches in France This Week

Local authorities had warned of high avalanche risk after heavy snow and dropping temps

Over the past week, 12 people have died from avalanches in the French Alps. There’s been a lot of spring snow over the past few weeks, which has been affected by sudden temperature swings.

Two avalanches in the region of Savoie killed seven people today. Local authorities had warned of unstable snow given a recent falloff in temperatures. The first avalanche in Valloire, a village close to the 2,642-metre Col du Galibier mountain, killed four hikers aged between 42 and 76. One other in the group survived.

The second avalanche claimed three lives near the 3,779-metre Mont Pourri, about 150 kilometres northeast of the first avalanche. There had been a warning issued of a “particularly high” risk after recent days saw heavy snowfalls. “With weather like today’s it is tempting to head for the mountains, but that is extremely risky,” Valloire mayor Jean-Pierre Rougeaux said.

The latest deaths come after two avalanches killed five people elsewhere in the French Alps. The first avalanche claimed the lives of three skiers in the Ecrins Range of the Hautes Alpes at an elevation of 3,700 metres.

Later that morning, a group of four climbers were caught in an avalanche in the valley of L’Oisans, about 70 kilometers from the accident in Ecrins. Two of them, a man and a woman, lost their lives, while a third suffered injuries, and a fourth was unharmed.

Hikers and climbers in Canada’s mountains sometimes let their guard down in spring, but avalanches can happen well into the summer. For some reminders on avalanche preparedness visit here.

Search and recovery at an avalanche in France on May 8 Photo Le Dauphine/ MaxPPP