Published on : Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The dead included three members from the same family and their snowboard instructor. Two were still alive when rescuers pulled them out of the snow, but died soon afterwards.
The group was swept away at 10.35 am local time as they boarded off-piste at an altitude of about 2,100 metres in the Savoie region of the central Alps, near the Italian border.
The avalanche, which is worst on French slopes so far this season, was triggered by a group of skiers higher n the slope.
Fiona Best, PR manager at the Ski Club of Great Britain, described the area where the avalanche occurred, “notorious” and “quite a bit off piste”.
The resort was packed with British and French families during school half term holidays, but police said all four killed were French.
They were described as a 19 year old boy, his father, his younger step-brother, and a 59 year old instructor. The victims were on foot, carrying their snowboards, when they were struck by the avalanche.
On Monday afternoon dozens of rescuers scrabbled to find five others believed to be missing before nightfall. About 50 rescuers and police rushed to the scene, joined by 60 ski and snowboarding instructors.
They spent much of the day shovelling through the deep mass of snow left by the avalanche until it emerged that the five people reported missing had not, in fact, joined the group and were safe.
The avalanche risk at Tignes on Monday was listed as three on a scale of five. At level three, a single skier can trigger an avalanche.
Daniel Goetz, of the French meteorological service, described it as a “slab” avalanche, caused when dense, wind-packed snow breaks off.