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Climbers’ Deaths Raise Recent Toll To 29

Mon., Aug. 4, 1997

Seven Alpine mountaineers died this weekend, raising to 29 the total number of people killed in the treacherous peaks in the last three weeks.

Rescuers used helicopters Sunday to recover the bodies of four Spanish climbers who were killed a day earlier. They were part of an expedition of five Spaniards who were climbing in two groups. The survivor, Ivan Muriel Jara, 28, said he watched three of his companions, tied together, plunge to their deaths.

He and his climbing partner went tumbling down the slopes, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Muriel landed on an ice ledge, but the other man fell to his death.

Helicopters lowered rescuers 260 feet and lifted Muriel to safety.

Police in the Alpine town of Courmayeur, where the bodies of Muriel’s four companions were taken, identified the dead as Ignacio Come Duenas, 26, Patricio Guerra Fernandez, 23, and Federico Mera Miranda, 23, all from Seville; and Rafael Castillo Luque, 28, from Cordoba.

The 15,750-foot Mont Blanc, on the borders of France, Italy and Switzerland, is one of Europe’s most visited peaks. Even experienced climbers die on its icy cliffs every year, victims of unpredictable weather and hidden crevasses.

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