May 20, 2024

Five missing skiers were found dead in the Swiss Alps and the search was ongoing for a sixth member of their group, the local police said on Monday.

The skiers set out from the Swiss resort town of Zermatt on Saturday morning, aiming for the village of Arolla, across a series of snow-covered peaks.

A relative alerted rescue services on Saturday afternoon that the group of Swiss citizens age 21 to 58 had failed to arrive at the village, according to a statement from the Valais region’s police force.

One of the skiers managed to call for help about an hour later, allowing rescuers to locate the group near the peak of the Tête Blanche mountain at about 11,000 feet of altitude, the commander of the force told a news conference on Monday. But severe weather conditions and a risk of avalanches forced the search to be suspended until the next day.

The rescuers had “tried the impossible,” Christian Varone, the commander, said. But, he added, “sometimes in the face of nature, one must surrender” so as not to put the lives of rescuers in “grave danger.”

Search and rescue efforts resumed on Sunday, and the police said that the five bodies were discovered at about 9:20 p.m.

Mr. Varone said an investigation was underway to determine cause of death, but noted that the skiers “found themselves in an extremely complicated situation” in low temperatures.

Weather conditions in Zermatt were “relatively good” when the group departed but had quickly deteriorated, he said.

In the mountains, “we can get going and everything changes very fast,” he added.

Seven hikers died in the same area in the spring of 2018, when they got caught in a storm and froze to death, according to a recent documentary.

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