Experienced mountain guide Roger Payne named among three Brits killed in avalanche

Chamonix avalanche
Experienced mountain guide Roger Payne died in this morning's avalanche on Mont Maudit. Photo: Twitter: @rogerpayne

Former General Secretary of the British Mountaineering Council and mountain guide Roger Payne was among the Britons killed in a huge avalanche in the French Alps today, the organisation said.

British Mountaineering Council chief executive Dave Turnbull said:

Roger was one of the UK's most enthusiastic and respected climbers with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s. Our thoughts are with Roger's friends and family - in particular his wife Julie-Ann.

Nine people died in the disaster on Mont Maudit, in the Mont Blanc range, near Chamonix.

Video report by Geraint Vincent

Three Britons, three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss person died in the disaster.

Four people were thought to be missing but at around 7pm local time two British climbers presented themselves to a local police station and a further two Spanish climbers were confirmed to have not been on the trip at all.

Rescue pictures from the avalanche:

Chamonix avalanche
The avalanche hit the French Alps at 5.25am local time. Credit: Klemen Gricar/ Mountain Tracks
Chamonix avalanche
At least nine people have died including three Britons. Credit: Klemen Gricar/ Mountain Tracks
Chamonix avalanche
A group of 28 people were on the mountain when the avalanche hit. Credit: Klemen Gricar/ Mountain Tracks

The alarm was raised this morning at approximately 5:25am local time by one of the injured on the slopes of Mont Maudit, the third highest peak in the Mont Blanc range.

The climbers - who were around the 4,000m point on the mountain - were hit by a "slab" avalanche, a spokeswoman for the prefecture said.

Some of those caught in the avalanche were supervised by professional mountaineering guides but others were climbing independently.

The spokeswoman said nine people were taken to hospital with minor injuries and a chapel had been established in the hospital in Chamonix to help families involved in the tragedy.

A total of 28 people were climbing the mountain.

Mont Maudit is 4,465m high and part of the Mont Blanc range. It means Cursed Mountain in French.