At least three dead in a "triggered" avalanche in the alpine resort of Zermatt

At least three people died and one was injured in an avalanche that occurred this Monday in Zermatt, one of the main ski destinations in the Swiss Alps, according to local police.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 04:23
9 Reads
At least three dead in a "triggered" avalanche in the alpine resort of Zermatt

At least three people died and one was injured in an avalanche that occurred this Monday in Zermatt, one of the main ski destinations in the Swiss Alps, according to local police.

The avalanche, which was recorded on video by some witnesses, occurred shortly after 2:00 p.m. local time in an off-piste area of ​​the Riffelberg ski resort - at about 2,500 meters above sea level - on a busy day. for the Holy Week festivities.

According to the police in the canton of Valais, where Zermatt is located, search operations for the victims will be suspended overnight and will resume tomorrow, Tuesday. The same sources said late Monday that more people could have been swept away by the snow avalanche. "Initially, there were no reports of missing people. This was not strange because the skiers who practice this sport in the affected area of ​​Riffelberg gradually return to their accommodation at night," they assured the press.

The authorities had raised the alert for avalanches in the area, due to the heavy snowfall in recent days, especially in the south of the Alps, and due to the strong winds that have shaken this part of the European mountain range.

In this sense. Former head of Zermatt mountain rescue and current head of Mattertal avalanche tracking, Bruno Jelk, told SRF that several people had skied on the very steep slope, quite far from the piste and "several tracks can be seen on the snow , which means that it could have been provoked," he said, although the exact causes of the avalanche are being investigated.

It is not immediately clear how many people were trapped by the snow masses. The investigation is difficult and could take longer because this is a large avalanche, Jelk said. You have to search until you are sure that there is no one left under the masses of snow.

So far this winter, 14 people have lost their lives in avalanches in Switzerland, mainly cross-country skiers.

Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn and near the border with Italy, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland.