Seven climbers swept to their deaths in French Alps avalanche
Seven climbers are dead and another seriously injured following an avalanche in the Pelvoux district of the French Alps.
The avalanche happened at around midday local time on the 13,000ft Dome de Neige des Ecrins mountain, according to reports.
It is understood that some of those among the dead are non-French nationals.
The avalanche hit three groups of climbers, said Pierre Besnard, prefect of the Hautes-Alpes region.
"The toll has increased -- seven people have died," said Mr Besnard, who had earlier put the number of deaths at five.
The newspaper Le Parisien is reporting that two Germans and three people from the Czech Republic were killed, and a Polish national was among the injured.
Christian Flagella, a member of the police force in the Hautes-Alpes region where the mountain is located, said the avalanche was likely triggered when a layer of snow separated and hurtled down the hill.
"The conditions are winter-like at the moment," he said.
Two helicopters as well as search dogs have been dispatched to aid in the rescue effort, Mr Besnard said.
The Dome de Neige is a popular climb because of its relatively easy routes to the summit.
The mountain is near the town of Pelvoux.
In January, six skiers were carried away by an avalanche in the Queyras mountain range of the Alps, and just over two months later, three died in the Massif des Ecrins.