Swiss Alps
© AP Photo / Paolo Giovannini
Five survivors in 14-member group in a critical condition; others have mild hypothermia

Four skiers have been killed and five others are in a critical condition after an unexpected snowstorm in the Swiss Alps forced them to spend the night outdoors.

Bad weather near the Pigne d'Arolla mountain caught the group of 14 skiers by surprise on Sunday, police in Valais canton said.

The manager of a rest-stop in the remote mountain region called for help on Monday morning, triggering a relief operation that involved seven helicopters.

Police said one of those killed was likely to have died after a fall and was found dead at the scene; three others died in hospital.

Some of those not identified as being in critical condition have mild hypothermia. The skiers were Italian, French and German nationals.

Agence France-Presse in Geneva


Comment: UPDATE: 1st May 2018, France24 reports:
Death toll up to 7 after Swiss Alps storm: police

A fifth person has died after a group of 14 skiers were caught up in a storm, police said Tuesday, after the bodies of two climbers were also found elsewhere in the Swiss Alps.

"Late in the evening on April 30, a fifth victim died," police in Valais canton said in a statement.

Bad weather in the Pigne d'Arolla area of the Swiss Alps on Sunday had caught the group of skiers by surprise.

The group had set out from the Dix rest-stop and had intended to make it to Vignettes to sleep, trekking along a route called The Serpentine.

The manager of a rest-stop in the remote mountain region sent out a call for help at dawn on Monday, triggering a major relief operation that involved seven helicopters, police said.

One person was found dead on the scene, and was believed to have died in a fall.

Three others died soon after they reached hospital, followed by the fifth death late Monday.

That person was likely among the five initially listed in critical condition by police.

Others in the group were merely suffering from "mild hypothermia".

The victims were Italian, French and German nationals, police said, adding that efforts were under way to formally identify them.

All the families had been informed of the tragedy, police said.

Police said separately that the bodies of two climbers, aged 21 and 22, were found further east Monday, in the Alps in Bern canton, after the alert was sounded late Sunday but the bad weather foiled rescue efforts.