14 Jan 2016

Deadly avalanche hits school group in French Alps

8:09 am on 14 January 2016

Two French schoolchildren and a Ukrainian tourist have been killed in an avalanche at a ski resort in the French Alps.

Officials say five more members out of a group of 10 pupils from Lyon are reported to be missing.

The avalanche struck the group, their teacher and the Ukrainian on a closed piste in the Les Deux Alpes area.

More than 60 rescuers with dogs assisted by four helicopters are on the scene.

Five people have been found and searches are still underway," the head of the police unit, Bernard Host, told Reuters.

Three of the injured were found in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, police said.

One of the dead was a fourteen year-old member of the school group from the eastern French city of Lyon. The body of a Ukrainian skier was also found by rescue teams, a spokesman for regional police said.

The group of nine students and their teacher had been skiing in the Les Deux Alpes area on a closed piste, Le Dauphine reported.

Rescuers with dogs and helicopters are on the scene, France Bleu radio said.

The BBC's Tim Rhodes in Les Deux Alpes tweeted that he had seen one person recovered from the snow.

The Deux Alpes ski resort is about 50km from the Italian border.

The avalanche happened after a large sheet of snow broke off above a black-rated slope that had been closed following several days of heavy snowfall.

- BBC/Reuters