Two British climbers killed in French Alps

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The Independent Online

Two British climbers died yesterday after falling 300 metres in the French Alps because of an equipment problem.

Two British climbers died yesterday after falling 300 metres in the French Alps because of an equipment problem.

The two men, who were aged about 50, had reached a height of about 3,800 metres (12,500ft) on a north-easterly route of Les Courtes in the Mont Blanc massif when the accident happened.

It is believed one slipped and dragged his partner down with him. Mountain rescuers reached them within 10 minutes of the accident shortly before 10am but both had died of head injuries.

Frederic Boidin, of the Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne in Chamonix, said the peak was covered in compact snow and ice at the time. "We understand that one of the pair slipped and fell and was then followed by the other, although it's not clear because no one saw it happen," he said. "Two people who made the ascent before them heard their cries and they called us."

Rescuers said there seemed to have been a problem with the climbers' equipment.

A number of Britons have died this year in the area, including a 27-year-old man from Cheshire who also fell 300 metres while climbing Mont Blanc and a 41-year-old from Essex who was killed when tons of ice fell on him near Chamonix.

Experienced mountaineers say the death rate in the Alps is low considering that, in the summer, up to 200 people climb Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest peak, each day.

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