Four skiers have been killed in an avalanche in the French Alps, and their guide has been detained by police over potentially putting the group at risk, reports The Guardian.
Another person was injured and has been hospitalised, while the guide escaped unharmed from the avalanche in the area around Entraunes in the southern Alps, local authorities in the Alpes-Maritimes department said.
The group was swept away while skiing off-piste near the Mercantour national park, not far from France’s border with Italy. It was this winter’s deadliest avalanche so far.
The guide was held in police custody on Friday night and an investigation has been opened into possible manslaughter and unintentional harm, Nice prosecutor Jean Michel Prêtre said.
Pretre told the media that the skiers were “apparently experienced” and accompanied by the senior guide who knew the mountain range.
“A risk was taken. Was it acceptable, reasonable, or not?” said Prêtre. “This is the subject of the investigation.”
The group, which consisted of three women and two men, all French, as well as the guide, were caught in a double avalanche on a slope at the bottom of valley.
The guide was able to get free and search for the others, who were equipped with location devices, and found the other survivor, a woman.
The investigation will also look into whether the avalanches were natural or triggered by the skiers.