Saturday 20 October 2018

Search underway for German retail billionaire missing in Swiss Alps

Karl-Erivan, Georg and Christian Haub of the retailer group Tengelmann pose for photographers in the western town of Muelheim, Germany, August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo
Karl-Erivan, Georg and Christian Haub of the retailer group Tengelmann pose for photographers in the western town of Muelheim, Germany, August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo
Karl-Erivan Haub (R) of the retailer group Tengelmann and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) visit a Tengelmann supermarket during an election campaign rally in the western town of Muelheim, Germany, August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Federico Gambarini/Pool/File Photo
Rescue doctor Axel Mann attends a news conference to report about the search of Swiss and Italian police for German retail magnate Karl-Erivan Haub, who has been missing since Saturday when he failed to return from an off-piste skiing tour, in the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt, Switzerland April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Frank Jordans and David Rising

Authorities in Switzerland and Italy are searching for a German billionaire who has been missing in the Alps since the weekend, when he failed to return from a ski excursion on the Matterhorn.

Karl-Erivan Haub, heir to the Tengelmann retail empire, was training for a ski race when he disappeared on Switzerland's famous peak, located on the border with Italy.

Rescue doctor Axel Mann attends a news conference to report about the search of Swiss and Italian police for German retail magnate Karl-Erivan Haub, who has been missing since Saturday when he failed to return from an off-piste skiing tour, in the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt, Switzerland April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Rescue doctor Axel Mann attends a news conference to report about the search of Swiss and Italian police for German retail magnate Karl-Erivan Haub, who has been missing since Saturday when he failed to return from an off-piste skiing tour, in the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt, Switzerland April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Tengelmann spokeswoman Sieglinde Schuchardt said there was no news yet on the fate of the 58-year-old, who was an experienced skier and mountaineer.

Mr Haub was skiing on his own in an area with glaciers and could have fallen into a crevasse, said Bruno Jelk, an experienced mountain rescue expert based in Zermatt who has been advising on the search efforts.

"The big problem is it's not known specifically where he went missing," Mr Jelk said.

"It's a huge area and there are a lot of possibilities. I'd say he must have fallen into a crevasse but there are a lot of them and it's hard to know which one."

Karl-Erivan Haub (R) of the retailer group Tengelmann and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) visit a Tengelmann supermarket during an election campaign rally in the western town of Muelheim, Germany, August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Federico Gambarini/Pool/File Photo
Karl-Erivan Haub (R) of the retailer group Tengelmann and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) visit a Tengelmann supermarket during an election campaign rally in the western town of Muelheim, Germany, August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Federico Gambarini/Pool/File Photo

He said fresh snow and windy conditions have made it even more difficult for searchers to pick up on any traces of Mr Haub's path.

Mr Haub's family raised the alarm after he did not show up at his hotel in Zermatt on Saturday afternoon, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

The head of mountain rescue services in Italy's Aosta valley, Adriano Favre, was quoted by Blick as saying that bad weather and high avalanche risk on the Italian side forced a six-person team to interrupt their search on Tuesday.

Swiss rescue service Air Zermatt said their search was ongoing.

Italy's alpine rescue service was also involved, with a team heading from Teodulo towards Furggen and ending at the Duca of the Abruzzi refuge.

Spokesman Tiziano Trevisan said poor weather conditions were limiting helicopter search options.

Mr Haub - who was born in Tacoma, Washington - and his brother Christian have led the company since 2000.

The family's fortune is estimated at more than €3 billion.

Family patriarch Erivan Haub died in March at his home in Wyoming.

Tengelmann's main businesses are the hardware store Obi and clothing retailer KiK. It also has large stakes in the Netto supermarket chain and online retailer Zalando.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News