France - Lithuania - 
Article published the Sunday 03 February 2013 - Latest update : Sunday 03 February 2013

Helicopter fails to find two Lithuanians missing in French Alps

Mont Blanc in the French Alps
Wikimedia.org / Sanchezn

By RFI

Rescue helicopters have failed to find two Lithuanian mountain climbers trapped at nearly 4,000 metres height on the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps. One has contacted rescuers by SMS but rescuers are pessimistic about their chances of finding the other.

A helicopter search on Sunday morning failed to find either of the missing mountaineers.

High winds prevented it descending below 4,500 metres, while the two, who are not together, are apparently at about 3,900 metres.

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Although no word had been heard from either on Sunday morning, a further flight was planned as soon as the weather would allow it.

Thick fog and high winds prevented any rescue efforts on Saturday.

The two, who had been climbing in two different teams of two, were reported missing on Friday.

One of their partners managed to descend the mountain by ski to the town of Chamonix, while the other was found wandering on foot at the bottom of the Argentière glacier.

One of the missing climbers texted rescuers that he was still in good health on Saturday evening and that he had dug a hole in the snow in which to take shelter. In the morning he reported that he had run out of gas with which to warm himself.

No word has been heard from the other and rescuers fear that he has fallen or been carried off by snow.

High wind warnings were maintained on Sunday in the Bouches-du-Rhone department, around Marseille, and in the Pyrenees mountains:

  • In the western Pyrenees two skiers were slightly injured when their ski-lift fell three metres on Saturday;
  • The mistral wind was expected to reach 110-130 km/h in Bouches-du-Rhone before slacking off on Sunday afternoon;
  • There were no plans to call of the Olympique Marseille/Nancy match in the evening although an inspection of the stadium, where building work was taking place, took place Sunday morning;
  • The tramontaine wind was expected to reach speeds as high as 160km/h in parts of the east Pyrenees, affecting both the mountains, the city of Perpignan and parts of the coast;
  • Flood warnings were issued for six departments, including the Vosges in the east and parts of Burgundy.
     

tags: Alps - Lithuania - Mont Blanc - Mountain climbing - Pyrenees - Rescue - Sport - Weather
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