Urgent search for six skiers missing near Matterhorn

The skiers are missing near one of Europe’s most famous mountains

Denis Balibouse
Sunday 10 March 2024 21:26 GMT
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A view out of a the new gondola towards mountain station Klein Matterhorn before the official opening of the new Matterh...
A view out of a the new gondola towards mountain station Klein Matterhorn before the official opening of the new Matterh... (KEYSTONE/DOMINIC STEINMANN)

Police in Switzerland are desperately searching for six people who went missing during a ski tour that departed from the Alpine holiday town of Zermatt.

The skiers, five of them members of the same family, went missing around Blanche mountain on Saturday on the Zermatt-Arolla path, near the Matterhorn mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy, police said.

The last signal from the group was recorded overnight.

“The storm raging in the south of the Alps and the risk of avalanches has prevented helicopters and rescuers from approaching the area,” the police said.

Anjan Truffer, the head of Zermatt’s air rescue service, told the BBC the weather means flying is not an option, with ‘very strong winds, heavy snow, high avalanche danger, and zero visibility’.

He added that he believes the six were overcome by the bad weather, rather than struck by an avalanche.

Aerial View on Zermatt Valley and Matterhorn Peak at Dawn, Switzerland
Aerial View on Zermatt Valley and Matterhorn Peak at Dawn, Switzerland (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Police said the missing skiers were between the ages of 21 and 58. Five belonged to one family from the Valais canton, while the sixth person is from the canton of Fribourg.

The rescue services say there is a good chance the missing skiers can survive if they dig themselves a snow hole.

As soon as it was announced that they were missing, “all the rescue services were alerted on both sides of the route and a large number of technical resources were deployed to locate the hikers”, said the police.

Zermatt is a popular mountain resort renowned for skiing and attracts tourists from around the world.

It is known to be a tough route and is only suggested for expereince skiers.

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