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Wednesday, February 10, 1999 Published at 18:27 GMT


Briton dies in avalanche

Rescuers have been working around the clock

The body of a British man missing after an avalanche near the French ski resort of Courchevel has been discovered by rescuers, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

[ image: The Alps avalanches are the worst for generations]
The Alps avalanches are the worst for generations
About 200 rescuers had battled against horrendous weather in the hope of finding the 28-year-old still alive. The man has not yet been named.

Meanwhile, three Britons have told how they clawed their way to safety after being buried in a heavy snow fall 50 miles from Chamonix.

Their escape came another avalanche in the villages of Le Tour and Montroc-le-Planet killed at least 10 people.

The three holidaymakers who escaped were caught by surprise when snow crashed down the mountain.

Nightmare walk

Karen Tinner, 33, a nurse at Bristol's Frenchay Hospital, was walking with two friends from their chalet to shops in the village of Tignes Les Brevieres on Tuesday lunchtime.

Paul Macey, 28, from Bristol, and nurse Maddie Sidani, 32, from Oxford, were unhurt while Ms Tinner, suffered minor injuries to her back but was able to walk.

She said: "You think these things only happen off piste but we were just walking to the shops in the village.

"We could see trees and deer and all sorts coming down."

'Good view'

Mr Macey said: "There was this almighty rumble and I looked up and saw the whole mountain coming down.

"For a split second I thought: 'Wow, what a good view,' but then it came down towards us.

"We started to run but it was too late. Vast amounts of snow were flying over the top of us and I couldn't breathe.

"I just kept struggling to keep my arm up and concentrated on making an air pocket with my hand."

He said the escape left him feeling elated, then terrified: "I just felt like jumping for joy and then the shock set in. I really did think we were going to die."

The three are on holiday in the French skiing resort with a 68-strong party from the Bristol Lawn Tennis and Squash Club.

'Don't cancel'

Five British skiers have already died in dreadful conditions in the Alps in the last 10 days.

But school parties and groups heading for the mountains for the half-term holiday starting this weekend have been urged to go ahead with their trips.

Yves Magat of Swiss television reports from Chamonix on a "bad year for avalanches"
Vanessa Haines, information services manager for the British Ski Club, said it was a matter of monitoring the conditions and using common sense.

She said: "People don't need to panic or cancel their holidays, but they do need to be aware of local conditions."

Ms Haines said problems getting to resorts are likely to have eased by the weekend.

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