Swiss police: At least 4 people dead in avalanches

AP News
Posted: Jan 03, 2010 3:18 PM

At least four people were killed in two separate avalanche incidents Sunday in the Swiss Alps, police said.

A group of skiers was hit by an avalanche shortly before midday in the Diemtig Valley about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital Bern, police in Bern canton said.

Rescuers who came to their aid were then hit by a second avalanche at the same spot, police said.

One person was killed immediately while two others died later in the hospital. Six people were injured, some seriously, police said. Among those killed was an emergency doctor who was part of the initial rescue team.

It was unclear whether any more people were missing when officials broke off the rescue mission at nightfall.

In a separate incident Sunday, a man was killed by an avalanche near the town of Verbier close to the borders with France and Italy, police in the southern canton of Valais said.

The start of the ski season and heavy snowfall in recent days have prompted officials to warn of a heightened avalanche risk in the Swiss Alps.