Three people killed in deadly avalanche

ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND – An avalanche near the Swiss resort of Zermatt has taken the lives of three individuals, including an American teenager, according to local police. One individual was airlifted to a nearby medical facility with serious injuries.

The catastrophe happened on Monday around 2 p.m. in an off-piste area known as the Riffelberg, located above the resort and beneath the famous Matterhorn peak. Rescuers discovered three bodies and an injured 20-year-old Swiss skier.

Among the deceased were a 15-year-old American boy, a man, and a woman, whose identities have not yet been released by the authorities in Valais canton. They also managed to rescue four people from the avalanche.

An investigation into the tragic occurrence is underway and is being overseen by the local prosecutors.

The avalanche happened amidst heavy snowfall and high winds, prompting local authorities to declare elevated avalanche risk in the southern Swiss Alps. Two popular ski destinations, the Grisons and Valais cantons, experienced this escalated risk extensively.

The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) warned of expected large spontaneous avalanches. Prior to this incident, Switzerland had already witnessed 14 deaths across 12 avalanches and accidents this season alone, as per data provided by SLF. Cross-country skiers constituted the majority of victims.

Last month, five members of a Swiss family were found dead while cross-country skiing near the Matterhorn under harsh weather conditions. Subsequently, the authorities called off the search for a sixth missing individual due to the unfavorable weather.