1. ITV Report

Four dead after avalanche in French ski resort Tignes

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

Four people have died in an avalanche in the French ski resort of Tignes.

Two of the victims - all of who are French nationals - were pulled alive from the snow, but later died.

The snowboarders and their instructor were walking in an off-piste area when they were swept away by the 400m-wide snowslide at around 2,100 metres (6,900 feet) at 9.35am GMT on Monday.

Those killed were a 48-year-old father, his 15-year-old son and a 19-year-old half-brother, and a 49-year-old instructor.

A fifth person was with the group minutes before the avalanche.

Local authorities do not believe there are any more victims.

The avalanche is thought to have been triggered by a group of skiers higher up on the slope.

Rescue workers at the site of an avalanche at Lavachet Wall in Tignes. Credit: Victor Diwisch via AP

One local worker, who did not want to be named, said: "The Lavachet Wall where it happened is a very dangerous bit of off-piste.

"There is a huge trench at the bottom that was dug to protect the town.

"It is a sad day in Tignes. Everyone is really sad and in shock - and of course praying it's not any of their friends in there.

"I've been here on and off for 18 years so not the first time I've seen this sadly.

"But the security de piste team are amazing here - they work round the clock when snow is heavy trying to make it as safe as possible."

Rescue workers at the scene. Credit: AP

The avalanche came on one of the busiest weeks of the season, with holiday makers from across Europe enjoying a half-term break.

Vicky Allen, a chalet rep, said: "There is a huge search effort still out - it's a very sad day for all of us working in the resort. It's devastating."

The avalanche risk had been a three on a scale of five before the incident. Credit: AP

Richard Miller, an IT consultant from Cambridge, said: "I saw the piste patrol scrambling with dogs so suspected something was happening.

"Some of the lifts were closed this afternoon after staff were diverted to the search.

"There are still lots of the patrol searching but a lot less people than earlier and they seemed to be scaling back."

A search is underway for anyone else caught up in the disaster,

The snowboarding group was accompanied by a professional when it was struck by the snowslide.

Around 10cms (4ins) of fresh snow fell on the slopes of the resort near the Italian border last week and more is forecast this week.

The avalanche risk had been a three on a scale of five before the incident.

Experts said a strong wind and warmer temperatures had made an avalanche more likely.

Since the beginning of the season, 13 avalanches in the Alps and the Pyrenees have caused three deaths.