An avalanche on Sunday near Mont Blanc in southeastern France swept four people to their deaths and left two more missing, the officials said. France’s interior minister called the death toll a provisional count, according to The Associated Press.
Among the dead were two mountain guides caught by the snow tumbling down the Armancette glacier, the prefecture for the Haute-Savoie department said.
Investigators had been called in help with the search for the two persons still unaccounted for in the Alps.
One person also suffered slight injuries in the avalanche while eight others also swept up were unharmed, the prefecture said.
The avalanche rolled down the Armancette glacier in Contamines-Montjoie, in the Haute-Savoie region, some 30 kilometers (almost 20 miles) southwest of Chamonix, AP reported. The avalanche covered an area of 1,000 meters by 500 meters.
No avalanche warning had been issued for the region by weather authority Meteo France, but a combination of warmth and wind may have been behind the disaster, the prefecture added.
“We’re thinking of (the victims) as well as of their families,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.
“Our emergency services have been mobilized to find those still trapped in the snow.”
Emergency responders had deployed a helicopter as well as mountain rescue dogs to the scene, although the prefecture warned a further avalanche could not be ruled out.
The operation was suspended in the evening, but will resume at 7:00 a.m. local time Monday.
“I think it’s the most deadly avalanche this season,” Contamines-Montjoie mayor Francois Barbier told AFP.
Two brothers died in an avalanche on the same glacier in 2014, both experienced climbers in their 20s.