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British teenage girl dies on school ski trip to Italian Alps


A teenage girl has died after falling from a ski lift during a school trip to the Italian Alps.

The 13 year-old girl, named in reports as Poonam Bhattal from Slough, is said to have fallen 16 feet onto the piste in the resort of Claviere yesterday morning.

Although she initially survived the fall, she died while on her way to a hospital 25 miles away in Susa, Sky News said.

The schoolgirl was having a ski lessons with classmates from the Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes, Middlesex, when she boarded the chairlift around 9.30am.

Local police commissioner Francesco Destro told Sky News: "The ski lift was moving very fast and rising fast when she fell."

He said he could not recall a similar accident.

Mr Destro added that the girl initially answered questions when officers rushed to her aid but "did not make it".

Police have launched an investigation and are due to question the teenager's classmates, who boarded the lift with her.

The school's principal, Rajinder Singh Sandhu, broke the news of the teenager's death to her family.

In a statement, he said the half-term excursion was led by the vice principal of the school with the help of two assistant head teachers and "a massively experienced team of eight staff.

"The leader of this trip and everyone associated with it is devastated by the death of an absolutely lovely student.

"The vice principal leading the trip has vast experience - having led 28 of such trips throughout his teaching career. He is obsessive about safety and security on these trips.

"It would be inappropriate for the school to comment further - given that there must be no prejudice to the very thorough investigation that will take place by Italian authorities.

He added that the school is "doing everything possible to support the family in any way possible".

A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm the death of a British National on Friday 22 February in Italy.

"We are providing consular assistance at this sad time."

Claviere is a ski resort in the province of Turin which crosses the French border.

Poonam's death came just hours before the funeral of ten-year-old Jemima Prees, from Wiltshire, who died earlier this month in a ski accident in the Austrian Alps.

Jemima was killed when she hit a tree at high speed while on a half-term holiday at the Mayrhofen resort near Tyrol with her family.

Skibound, which organised the trip, said in a statement: "Skibound regrets to confirm that a pupil from Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes, Middlesex, has been involved in a fatal incident in the ski resort of Claviere in the Piemonte region of Italy on 22nd February at 09:30 CET.

"The thoughts and condolences of all at Skibound are with the family, school and friends. All our efforts are focused on ensuring they are supported in any way possible through this very difficult time.

"The company's operations centre received notification from the resort manager that a female pupil had been involved in an incident on a chairlift during her morning ski school lesson.

"The rescue team from the Italian emergency services arrived at the scene, but unfortunately she was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. Her next of kin has been informed.

"The company's operations centre team continue to liaise closely with the group in resort and school staff involved as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Embassy in Italy."