FIFTY soldiers said to be from France´s Foreign Engineer Regiment were caught up in an avalanche during an off-piste training exercise in Valfrejus, near the Italian border.
Equipped with avalanche detection systems, the group were skiing at 2,200 metres in the Petit Argentier area when the avalanche struck their party just before 2pm on January 18.
The detection system allowed for a swift response from mountain rescuers. Reports confirm that helicopters and search dogs were on the scene within minutes.
Five of the ten soldiers who were found first died after going into cardiac arrest, while four others were described as having light injuries. As yet the fate of the other soldiers involved in the exercise remains unclear, with a spokesperson for the CRS rescue team telling TV reporters “We´re still trying to carry out the rescue and trying to count everyone in the area, to know if we still have people there who´ve been buried.”
Valfrejus is located just 124 km from Les Deux Alpes, the ski resort where two youngsters and a Ukranian tourist lost their lives to an avalanche on January 13.