Alps avalanche kills 2 French high school students, 1 Ukrainian skier

An avalanche in the French Alps struck a high school ski group Wednesday afternoon, killing at least three people, according to French officials.

Ski trail had been closed amid avalanche warnings

Students light candles outside the Saint-Exupery high school in Lyon, France, Wednesday to commemorate two students from the school and a Ukrainian man killed when an avalanche swept away skiers in Les Deux Alpes ski resort in the French Alps. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty)

An avalanche in the French Alps struck a high school ski group Wednesday afternoon, killing at least three people, according to French officials.

France's National Gendarmerie said a search-and-rescue operation was launched in the Deux Alpes ski resort using sniffer dogs and a helicopter.

French authorities in the Alps region confirmed that two high school students — a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy — and a Ukrainian skier died in the avalanche, which took place on a ski trail that had been closed amid avalanche warnings.

Officials said the avalanche hit 10 students and a teacher from the Saint Exupery school in Lyon. A telephone hotline has been opened in Lyon for relatives of those affected by the tragedy.

Local officials did not give any information on the number of missing but said 60 workers had been mobilized in the search-and-rescue operation.

Cmdr. Bertrand Host said there had been warnings of a high risk of avalanches ahead of the slide. He spoke to BFM television from the avalanche site.

The regional Dauphine Libere newspaper reported that four of the students were found in cardiac arrest but their teacher was conscious.

French President François Hollande said in a statement Wednesday evening that the French education minister was on her way to Lyon. She was expected to arrive in the coming hours to "support the school community and the families."

Hollande said around 8 p.m. Paris time that mountain emergency services are still engaged in a rescue operation, and confirmed that three people have died so far and others are seriously injured.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.