A sign in the Savoie region, France, warns of the avalanche risk.
© Regis Duvignau/Reuters
A sign in the Savoie region, France, warns of the avalanche risk.
Two skiers from France and Belgium have been killed in avalanches in the French Alps while three other people remain missing, a local official said.

Sunday's deaths add to a toll of six following avalanches in the French mountains on Friday and Saturday.

On Twitter, France's interior minister, Gérard Collomb, urged all those taking part in winter sports to act "with the utmost caution".

It is essential to follow the signs put up by local authorities "to avoid putting yourself in danger and endangering rescue teams".

The two skiers died during simultaneous avalanches around lunchtime, while skiing off-piste from the Vallorcine resort in the Chamonix-Mont Blanc region.

One of the skiers was dug out of the snow alive, but died hours later in hospital. The Belgian skier was found dead, and another Belgian in the same group was injured.

An hour earlier, at Samoëns near the Swiss border, a Swiss hiker had been swept away by another avalanche, and bad weather forced searchers to abandon their efforts to find him later in the day. The man's wife was also buried in snow, but escaped with only minor injuries.

"We are pessimistic about his chances as he has already been under the snow for five hours," an official from the Haute-Savoie region told AFP.

In neighbouring Savoie, rescuers were looking for two missing skiers, aged 47 and 49, who were caught in an avalanche off-piste at Planay in the Tarentaise Valley in the heart of the French Alps.

On Saturday, two Spanish skiers were killed when an avalanche hit a group skiing off-piste on a mountain in south-eastern France.

A day earlier, four skiers were killed in the Mercantour national park in the French Alps, the deadliest avalanche of the winter so far.

Source: AFP