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Saturday, May 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Nation/World

Sunny Alps Are Fatally Attractive At Least 17 Climbers Have Died Since Weekend On Snowy Peaks

By Associated Press

Drawn by deceptively sunny weather, at least 17 people have died scaling the snow-covered Alps since the weekend, including climbers from the United States, France, Italy, and Austria.

Two others - from the Netherlands and Britain - died in the mountains three weeks ago but their bodies were located only Wednesday.

The warm summer weather and blue skies draw thousands of tourists, hikers and climbers to the Alps every year, leading to fatalities in snowy conditions.

“Unhappily, this happens every year. In the snow they can fall, and it’s always great heights, and they die,” said Pierre Faussurier, a police spokesman in the French Alps.

Four climbers - including an Austrian, a Frenchman and an American - died Wednesday morning in two accidents on Mont Blanc. Authorities had not yet identified the nationality of the fourth climber.

The U.S. Embassy in Paris confirmed the death of the American but would not release his name.

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.

French rescue teams aided by a helicopter spotted and recovered the Mont Blanc victims, Faussurier said. All four climbers fell from great heights, he said in a telephone interview. Few details were available, but Faussurier said the American and the Frenchman had been climbing together.

Two other climbers died three weeks ago on Mont Blanc, and search crews spotted them from a helicopter Wednesday morning, Faussurier said.

The French daily Le Figaro, which reported them missing, identified them as Dominic Gree, 25, of England, and Arne van der Zwan, 23, a Dutch citizen.

Authorities in the French Alpine city of Grenoble said Wednesday that at least 13 other people had died since Saturday in the Alps, which span Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany and Austria.

Among them were three Italians who died after a 1,000-yard fall Sunday on the French side of Mont Blanc, Italian news media reported.

Last year, 98 people died in the Swiss Alps, according to the Swiss Alpine Club.

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