French Alps avalanche: Three tourists dead and one injured in Briancon

The snow slide happened near the town of Briancon

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The Independent Online

An avalanche in the French Alps killed three tourists and injured one other this afternoon, officials have said.

An Italian and two Austrians were killed, while a fourth person was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Grenoble, after the snow slide hit the Ecrins massif, near the town of Briancon, in mid-afternoon.

The nature of their injuries are yet unknown.

The victims were part of a group of eight skiers, from a party of 12, which was swept away in the avalanche at around 3pm today, the Mirror reported.

None of the skiers were French nationals, Hautes-Alpes department officials said.

Seven of the skiers are holed up in a refuge building nearby at an altitude of about 3,500 metres (11,500ft), and will stay there overnight until emergency services are able to rescue them, officials told the Associated Press.

Mountain rescue teams accompanied by sniffer dogs were dispatched to the scene.

The tragic incident comes after a British man, 30, was swept away and killed by an avalanche in the Swiss Alps.

The snow in the region is particularly unstable due to as a bought of heavy snowfall has followed a period of warm weather.