'Snow cave' dug by skiers who were desperately tried to avoid freezing to death as one STILL missing

'Snow cave' dug by skiers who were desperately tried to avoid freezing to death as one STILL missing

WATCH: Helicopters search for skier in Switzerland as five others found dead

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 12/03/2024

- 14:38

A helicopter was part of a search and rescue operation over the weekend

Rescue teams searching for a missing skier in the Alps found an "ice cave" dug by a desperate family trying to avoid freezing to death.

Thesix cross-country skiers, five of them members of the same family from Valais canton, went missing near the 3,710 metre-high Tête Blanche mountain on Saturday on the Zermatt-Arolla path on the Swiss-Italian border.

Eleven helicopters were part of a search and rescue operation over the weekend as well as a five-person team that left Zermatt on foot to reach the area near the Matterhorn, which straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.

However, the search party had to turn back late on Saturday within 500 metres (yards) of the group's last reported altitude. Police said the group of skiers included people between the ages of 21 and 58.

\u200bMarc Moix and a Swiss village

Marc Moix was one of those who was found dead


Authorities have not given the cause of death for the five found late on Sunday but described "catastrophic" conditions with snow storms, high winds and extreme temperatures.

Rescuers said the group had tried to make the cave to shelter from the elements but ultimately slipped into unconsciousness and died amid exposure to the freezing weather. Marc Moix, a captain with the local police force in Valais, was one of the six skiers who went missing in the tragedy close to the Tete Blanche mountain.

He is the cousin of the two brothers David and Jean-Vincent Moix who are believed to have frozen to death. Another brother and an uncle were also killed in the tragedy and a sixth person is still missing.

A third victim has been identified as law graduate Emilie Deschenaux, 28, who was from Fribourg and a friend of David's.


\u200bPolice chief Christian Varone

Police chief Christian Varone held a press conference


Police chief Christian Varone said: "Our priority is to find that sixth person. As long as there is hope we will do all we can, but we have to be realistic about the conditions that person has lived through over the past 48 hours."

Mountain guide Anjan Truffer told Swiss broadcaster SRF that two of the bodies had to be dug out from beneath the snow. He said that rescuers advised them to dig a snow cave after one of them sounded the alarm.

Truffer said: "The end result was clear, the people froze to death. They got caught in a storm, probably lost their bearings and didn't know what to do

"You could see that they tried, but unfortunately they were very poorly equipped and with those little shovels in the hard snow, there wasn't much they could do."

\u200bVigils for the skiers

Vigils for the skiers were held in nearby villages


Zermatt is a popular mountain resort renowned for skiing and attracts tourists from around the world.

However, weather has caused avalanche risks with police officers urging extreme caution given the ongoing risks.

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