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Glencoe avalanche: Four climbers killed in 'appalling tragedy'

Four climbers - two men and two women - were killed after an avalanche swept Glencoe on Saturday.

Glencoe accident: Woman died after fall.
© STV

Four climbers have been killed in an avalanche on the Bidean nam Bian range in Glencoe.

The climbers, two men and two women, were found by a search and rescue team and have now been pronounced dead.

Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and Northern Constabulary lead the search for the individuals, who were part of a party of six climbers hit by a severe snowslip.

One woman was taken to Belford Hospital in Fort William but was later transferred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. Her condition is said to be serious.

The sixth climber who raised the alarm is safe and well and being assessed and cared for by emergency services. Police are expected to interview him on Sunday to understand the events leading up to the deaths.

Emergency services were alerted to the incident at around 2pm on Saturday.

John Grieve, leader of Glencoe mountain rescue team, which co-ordinated the search, said the alarm was initially raised by two climbers - who were not part of the group of six - when they discovered one of the casualties lying in the snow.

But, soon after, police were contacted by the male survivor from the climbing party, who told them more people were missing.

Mr Grieve, who is in Spain and was not part of the search, said: "The first call to police was from two other people who had been on the mountain, they found someone lying next to where they were climbing.

"So, the assumption was that it was just one casualty, but it became clear that there were others missing when they heard from the man who is safe."

He said the dead climbers were located using a technique called "probing", where a metal stick is pushed into the snow.

"I'm not sure how deeply buried they were, but using that technique would suggest it was more than a metre," Mr Grieve said.

All of the missing climbers were found within four hours of the alarm being raised.

Mark Diggins, co-ordinator of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, said the weather conditions were fairly dry with little snow over the last four days.

He said Saturday’s avalanche risk was deemed "considerable", second lowest on a European four-point scale. The most serious is "very high", which is extremely rare in Britain.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is an appalling tragedy and our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been lost. To lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating.

"The Scottish Government will provide any support that we can and I would like to thank the police and mountain rescue team for their efforts in these difficult circumstances."

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland advised anyone concerned about relatives climbing in the area to contact local police control on 01463 715 555.


View Bidean Nam Bean Ridge, Glencoe in a larger map

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