Missing teacher found dead in French Alps

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The Independent Online

A Briton missing in the French Alps since last week has been found dead by a mountain rescue team.

Brian Ellis, 53, a teacher from Devon who was an experienced climber and hiker, disappeared on 4 June in the Massif de Belledonne, near Grenoble. He had apparently gone on a long hike and been caught in bad weather.

The alarm was raised when he used his mobile phone to leave a message on the answering machine at the hostel where he was staying. "Help me, I'm stuck, oh God," he said – and then the line went dead.

Lieutenant Pierre Pelcener, of the Compagnies Republicaines de Securité en Montaigne, said Mr Ellis had fallen between 20 metres and 25 metres (65-80ft). Whether the fall was fatal, or whether Mr Ellis died of exposure in the blizzard that was engulfing the area, was not immediately clear.

Mr Ellis was found yesterday at the foot of a ridge in a steep valley of rocks and forest. On Thursday, his wife, Grazyna, identified his hat in a telephone conversation with police. The hat was found 400 metres above him.

David Humphries, the headteacher at Ilfracombe Community College where Mr Ellis taught physics, said he had lost "a great, great teacher".

* Vikram Reddy, 24, a law student from Maidstone, Kent, has died while "canyoning" in Franceafter being sucked into a whirlpool.

Mr Reddy had jumped from a 40ft-high boulder into the river Loup when he got into difficulties. Friends tried to reach him but he was sucked away by the current and vanished into a powerful eddy. Canyoning, which involves riding along fast-running streams and abseiling down waterfalls,has become popular in recent years.