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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones