Page last updated at 23:26 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Three die in Highlands avalanche

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Mountain rescue services arrive at the mountain

Police in the Highlands have confirmed that three climbers have died following an avalanche on a mountain.

The three climbers were two men from Northern Ireland and another from Scotland, Northern Constabulary said.

The incident was sparked at about 1200 GMT when helicopters were scrambled to Buchaille Etive Mor in Glencoe.

Northern Constabulary said that in all, nine people - who were in at least two separate parties - were caught up in the avalanche.

Insp Pamela Ross from Northern Constabulary confirmed at about 1500 GMT on Saturday that casualties had been airlifted to Belford Hospital.

AVALANCHE FACTS
Nine climbers involved
Two separate climbing parties
Five uninjured
One suffers shoulder injury
Three die
They included three who were seriously hurt and one who had suffered a shoulder injury. Five people were uninjured.

Northern Constabulary confirmed at about 1700 GMT that three of the casualties being treated in hospital had died.

First on the scene of the incident was the RAF rescue helicopter, Rescue 137, which had been diverted from an exercise in the area.

A second helicopter, Rescue 177, was scrambled from the Royal Navy station at HMS Gannet near Prestwick.

John Grieve from Glencoe Mountain Rescue describes the operation

But one helicopter had to be grounded because of blizzard conditions.

The Avalanche Information Service website warned that the avalanche hazard for Saturday would be "considerable".

It stated: "Snowpack stability will remain poor on all steep North-North-West through North to East aspects above 850m where avalanches are likely.

"Weak cornices will continue to grow over these locations and be prone to collapse."

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