Tuesday 19 March 2019

'Absolutely tragic news' - three people killed and one injured in Ben Nevis avalanche

Several climbers are feared to have been caught up in an avalanche on Ben Nevis
Photo: Google Maps
Several climbers are feared to have been caught up in an avalanche on Ben Nevis Photo: Google Maps
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Three people have died and one other person was injured after an avalanche on Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, Police Scotland said.

Police said a climbing party was in the area at the time but could not confirm if anyone was trapped or injured.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We were made aware of an avalanche on Ben Nevis shortly after 11.50am this morning.

"Police Scotland is currently co-ordinating the mountain rescue response to this incident and is supporting partners at the scene.

"No further details are available at this time".

A police spokesman said: "Police Scotland is currently co-ordinating a mountain rescue response following reports of an avalanche on Ben Nevis this morning.

"Police were informed that the avalanche had occurred in Number 5 Gully area at around 11.50am.

"We can sadly confirm that three people have died and one person has been injured.

"Volunteers from Lochaber and Glencoe mountain rescue teams remain at the scene and were assisted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Scottish Ambulance Service."

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "This is absolutely tragic news. My thoughts are very much with the bereaved and injured. And my gratitude as always for the work of our emergency services, Mountain Rescue and Coastguard."

A hiker who reached the summit of Ben Nevis on Friday said they were "very lucky" to complete the expedition, after three climbers were killed and one more was injured in an avalanche on the mountain.

Ambre Boucher and a group of friends set off from a local youth hostel, taking the mountain track to hike to and from the summit between 9am and 5pm.

"It was cold, heavy winds, snow flurries," the 41-year-old nurse from South Wales said.

"There was a whiteout at the top which got a bit scary, our footprints were being covered, but we managed to find our way down with another climber.

"There was an announcement over the weekend, I believe.

"We saw the risks yesterday. We still went and we were very lucky."

After hearing the news on their way back to Wales, she said the group are "thanking our lucky stars" and "hope (the missing climbers) are all accounted for now".

Ben Nevis, near Fort William in the western Highlands, is a popular destination for experienced climbers, attracting 125,000 visitors each year.

Tuesday's incident follows two recent fatal accidents on the mountain which at 1,345m is the UK's highest.

On New Year's Day, a 21-year-old German woman, who was a student at Bristol University, died after she fell from a ridge she had been climbing with three other people.

She had been hiking on what is known as the "ledge route" when she fell around 500ft.

In December, Patrick Boothroyd, 21, from West Yorkshire, died after falling in the Tower Gully area.

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