Search goes on for Alps victims

RESCUE TEAMS were continuing to search the impacted snow and rubble which used to be 18 Alpine chalets last night, despite fading hopes of finding more survivors of the avalanche which killed 10 people near Argentiere on Tuesday.

Two more people were known to be missing, believed buried under the wreckage and snow, which had been turned hard as concrete by severe frost.

The 10 known to have died, all French, included a couple and their three children aged 11 to 13, and an elderly couple and their four-year-old granddaughter.

Twenty people were rescued, including a 12-year-old boy found close to death after spending hours buried in the wreckage. The child, suffering from hypothermia but otherwise uninjured, was said to be recovering well in hospital in Chamonix.

The avalanche - wider than the length of a football field and as tall as a house - crashed into a high Alpine valley amid the ski resorts of the Mont Blanc massif after three days of intense snow storms. Part of the wall of snow rebounded uphill to engulf a group of chalets on the opposite side of a stream.

Local people were in a state of shock, and some fear yesterday. The stricken chalets were in a "white zone", considered to be almost free from the threat of avalanches. There had been no significant slide of snow at the site for 91 years.

The Foreign Office said last night that the body of a 28-year-old British man had been found in Courcheval, about 40 miles south of Chamonix, after an avalanche. The man, who was not being named, had been working at the resort and had been skiing off piste when the avalanche struck.