Swiss police search for missing skier

Swiss police continued their search Sunday for a missing skier after an avalanche buried a party of French skiers in the country's south.

Four people were killed and five injured when an avalanche hit the group of 11 skiers Saturday on the 3,730-metre Mont Velan in the Pennine Alps near the Swiss-Italian border.

The search for the missing victim was called off for the night later yesterday due to dangerous conditions, police said.

It continued today with the use of a helicopter and guide.

All members of the group on a backcountry ski trip were French, nine wearing snowshoes and two with cross-country skis.

Local police spokesman Jean-Marie Bornet said earlier that at least three of the dead were buried by the avalanche.

Rescuers were alerted shortly after noon by one member of the group who was able to free himself, Bornet said. A vast search operation that included helicopters was launched.

One of the skiers later died at a local hospital, the Swiss news agency SDA quoted police as saying.

Switzerland's National Avalanche Center warned of a "considerable" risk of snowslides in the region yesterday.

In January 2010, six people died in an avalanche in another region, Diemtigtal, and a doctor who went to help was swept away in a second avalanche.