Three members of same family die in avalanche in French Alps that killed four

Four people were killed when they were hit by a wall of snow in an off-piste area 

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The Independent Online

Three members of the same family have died in an avalanche in the French Alps

Four people died in total when they were hit with a wall of snow in an off-piste area of the resort of Tignes near the Italian border.

The victims were a 49-year-old instructor, a 48-year-old father, his 15-year-old son and a 19-year-old half-brother, all of whom are French, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier reports that five other people remain missing are now thought to be false. 

The avalanche was about 100 metres (330 feet) wide and 400 metres (1,300 feet) long and struck the mountain about 2,100 metres (6,900 feet) up in an off-piste sector known as Toviere. 

Albertville deputy prefect Nicolas Martrenchard said: "We lament the four deceased victims and we think there will be only four. The search continues. It was an avalanche of a huge scale."

The avalanche, which is worst on French slopes so far this season, was triggered by a group of skiers higher on the slope. 

Fiona Best, PR manager at the Ski Club of Great Britain, described the area where the avalanche occurred, as "notorious" and "quite a bit off piste".

"It's known to be a treacherous area to go to and with an avalanche warning of three out of five you would question whether or not you should really be heading over there," she said.

It is the worst avalanche in France since the ski season began.

Since the beginning of the season, there have been 13 avalanches in the Alps and the Pyrenees, which have killed at least three.

Last season, there were 45 incidents, which killed 21 people.

In January this year an avalanche buried a hotel in central Italy killing a total of 29 people.