Three Dutch nationals were skiing off-piste when they got lost, a tourism officer said
Snowy conditions and the risk of more avalanches have hampered rescue efforts
One person has died and two others are missing after an avalanche in the French resort of Valfrejus hit the area where they were skiing, a tourism officer said Wednesday.
The three skiers, all Dutch nationals, went off-piste Tuesday afternoon, but sent a text message to a friend’s cell phone saying they were lost, said Yan Chaboissier, director of the Valfrejus tourism office.
That friend only notified the rescue services a few hours later, for reasons unknown, Chaboissier told CNN.
A rescue effort was launched for the “Le Seuil” zone of the skiing area soon after, but the snowy conditions and danger of more avalanches made it very difficult and dangerous, Chaboissier said.
Rescuers were trying to reach the area again on Wednesday morning but the previous day’s avalanche had restricted access, he added.
Valfrejus is an Alpine skiing resort in the Savoie region of southeastern France.
Posts on the resort’s Twitter feed said there was a snow storm on Monday.
A separate avalanche occurred Tuesday near the French resort of Tignes, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) away. There were no casualties there.
It was the second avalanche in a month for Tignes, where four skiers died in February.
The Savoie authorities warned in a press release Wednesday of a high risk of avalanches across the area and said “extreme prudence” must be exercised in all mountain activities. It advised against all off-piste skiing and snowboarding.
The avalanche risk warning is currently at four out of five, where five is the greatest, it said. This means there is high instability on many slopes.