British climbers killed by Alps rockfall

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The Independent Online

Two British climbers died after falling in the French Alps, it was confirmed today.

The man and woman plummeted around 1,000 feet when a rockfall hit them as they were attempting to ascend a mountain popular with walkers.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: "We can confirm two British people died in the French Alps on Monday July 5.

"Their next of kin have been informed and there is consular assistance being given to their families."

Captain Benoit Tonanny from the mountain rescue team in Chamonix said: "At 10.15am on Monday we were called by two alpinists who were on the mountain route to the summit of the Dent du Geant.

"The two climbers heard people shouting, then nothing after that, so we went as fast as we could on the ground.

"We discovered two people had died."

He said after the rescue team made enquiries a witness said he saw a rockfall above the two British climbers.

Captain Tonanny said: "It's a famous mountain in the Mont Blanc massif. There are a lot of possible routes.

"The route the two alpinists wanted to climb was quite difficult.

"The weather was good," he said. "A perfect day for climbing."

He said during their investigation the mountain rescuers took a helicopter to find out what caused the rockfall.

They found no climbers above the scene, he said, so ruled out the possibility it was caused by other mountaineers.

"I think it was natural. It was not human intervention. It's a real tragedy."

The FCO did not disclose the names of the two people who died.