Climbers killed by Ben Nevis avalanche

Freezing weather sweeps Britain once more, killing five people in 24 hours

Forecasters and the rescue services warned of continuing danger yesterday after avalanches claimed the lives of three climbers. Two of the climbers were killed when they were were swept away as they ascended Ben Nevis and the third died in hospital a few hours after being rescued from Liathach ridge at Torridon in Wester Ross.

The fatalities brought to six the number of people killed in 24 hours after much of the UK was gripped by freezing weather conditions for the second week running. The biggest loss of life came in northern England, where three men from Preston were killed on a snowy Pennine stretch of the M62 near Huddersfield on Tuesday night when the car they were travelling in collided with a barrier. They were named last night as Bilal Bholat, 24, Imran Bodi, 27, and Alnoor Rajani, 31.

A series of accidents brought long delays to many roads, with the A14 in Suffolk, the A5 in Shropshire and the A628 in Greater Manchester all closed after accidents. In Blaenavon, South Wales, tragedy was narrowly averted when a large tree fell on to an empty car.

The bodies of the climbers killed on Ben Nevis were discovered in deep snow that had plunged hundreds of metres down the mountain, burying the pair in a gully on the north face of Britain's highest mountain. The Northern Constabulary said formal identification will take place once the next of kin had been informed, and a report will be submitted to Scotland's procurator fiscal.

The avalanche was one of three reported yesterday in the Highlands. But the build-up of surface hoarfrost – a condition more commonly associated with the Alps – brought on by days of freezing meant that the weather posed a threat to those who ventured up the higher peaks.

Mark Diggins of SportScotland Avalanche Information Service said the prolonged cold spell had resulted in the build-up of fragile frost crystals that caused fresh snowfalls to become unstable.

"The crystals can be quite dangerous if buried by further falls of snow as they form a very, very weak layer. They are a bit like soap flakes and create a very slippery surface," he said.

The third climber to die had been caught by an avalanche at Liathach ridge. He was located by a friend who called him on his mobile phone but police said last night that he had died in hospital.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team leader John Stevenson said: "It was extremely dangerous for the rescuers, and we had spotters out to watch for any of the team getting into trouble." Later in the day, two climbers were found and airlifted to safety in a third search after an avalanche on Beinn an Dothaidh near Bridge of Orchy in Argyll.

Fatal avalanches, although rare in the UK, are not unprecedented. Three people were killed during a cold snap in January this year at Buachaille Etive Mor at Glencoe.

Yesterday, fresh snow swept across Wales, northern England and Scotland. Those in the south who escaped further falls endured another rainy, gloomy day.

Between midnight and 3pm, the AA had attended about 9,000 breakdowns on the roads. A spokesman said the service was expecting to have been called out 14,000 times by the end of yesterday, although this is significantly fewer than the 18,000 call-outs made to AA mechanics on Tuesday.

Forecasters were predicting a cold night for many areas tonight, with temperatures at midnight likely to dip below freezing in many areas. Those attending Hogmanay events in Scotland, where the weather will be coldest, were advised to wrap up warm and refrain from drinking too much.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas