Blast to start avalanche kills work­ers at Alps ski re­sort

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Rory Mul­hol­land in Paris

TWO ski re­sort work­ers have been killed in Mo­ril­lon in the French Alps while us­ing ex­plo­sives to spark an avalanche to keep the slopes safe for skiers.

Their deaths came as three Ger­man cross-coun­try skiers died and a fourth was re­ported miss­ing fol­low­ing an avalanche in western Aus­tria on Satur­day evening.

The in­ci­dent in Mo­ril­lon oc­curred at 8.30am lo­cal time yes­ter­day as the work­ers were pre­par­ing the ex­plo­sives at a height of 5,900ft in the fam­ily re­sort in the Haut-giffre val­ley, which is pop­u­lar with Bri­tons.

Po­lice said it had been con­firmed that they were killed by the ex­plo­sion.

The work­ers had been sent out to the Lanches sec­tor of the re­sort be­fore the ski slopes were opened to the pub­lic, after a night of heavy snow­fall. Skiers had been warned that the risk of avalanche was at four on a scale of one to five.

Set­ting off ex­plo­sives, of­ten dy­na­mite, is a com­mon tech­nique used in ski re­sorts to spark avalanches that might oth­er­wise take place when slopes are packed with skiers.

“The spe­cial­ist pis­teurs who are in­volved in se­cur­ing the trails and roads from avalanches with ex­plo­sive de­vices go through ex­ten­sive train­ing,” Henry Sch­niewind from ski­ing ad­vice web­site Henry’s Avalanche Talk told the Daily Tele­graph.

“Their job in­volves haz­ards from avalanche dan­ger that most of us are aware of; the dan­ger from ex­plo­sives seems less ap­par­ent. To­day’s tragedy is a re­minder to us all about how brave these men and women are.”

The moun­tain gen­darme unit from Cha­monix is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the deaths and has sent of­fi­cers to the scene.

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