Third person dead after Ben Nevis avalanche

Image caption,
A Coastguard helicopter involved in the rescue effort

A third person has died following an avalanche on Ben Nevis, police have confirmed.

Two climbers died at the scene and a fourth person was injured in the incident, which took place in an area known as Number 5 Gully.

The alarm was raised at 11:50 and a Coastguard helicopter, air ambulance, three road ambulances and a trauma team were sent to the scene.

Mountain rescue teams from Lochaber and Glencoe also joined the rescue effort.

And a group of military personnel training in the area offered assistance to the rescuers.

Police initially said two people died in the avalanche and two people were injured.

One of the injured climbers later died and the second was airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow for treatment.

Officers said they were working to establish the identity of the climbers and were following a "positive line of inquiry" in relation to their identity.

Insp Isla Campbell said: "This has been a challenging operation and I want to pass on my thanks to the mountain rescue teams, colleagues at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Scottish Ambulance Service for their assistance in extremely difficult conditions.

"I would also like to praise members of the public and staff from the Scottish Avalanche Information Service who were on scene at the time and provided immediate assistance."

Image caption,
On Monday, the avalanche risk on the mountain was assessed to be 'high'

Earlier Insp Campbell told BBC Scotland that the weather in the area was atrocious.

"The rescuers have been working through some really difficult conditions there, high winds preventing the use of the helicopter," she said.

"So although I wasn't up there personally I can just imagine, from the weather on the ground today, it's been very, very challenging for them.

"I would really like to thank those volunteers from the mountain rescue team and those people who were in the area who came into action and assisted so ably."

The Scottish Ambulance Service said it had dispatched three ambulances, a helimed resource and a trauma team to the scene after being alerted at 12:22.

'Heart-breaking news'

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her thoughts were with the bereaved and injured following the "absolutely tragic news".

Local SNP MSP Kate Forbes added: "I'm sure that the hearts of everybody in the local area go out to those who are grieving. I sincerely hope that there are no further casualties."

She also expressed gratitude to the mountain rescue team volunteers who were "ready and willing to go out in all weathers whenever the call comes".

Image caption,
Mountain rescue teams, the coastguard, police and ambulance service were involved in the rescue effort

Ben Nevis has been the scene of other fatal accidents this winter.

A 21-year-old German woman, who was studying at Bristol University, died after she fell from a ridge she had been climbing with three other people on New Year's Day.

In December, Patrick Boothroyd, 21, from West Yorkshire died after a fall on the mountain.

Elsewhere in the Highlands, a 57-year-old man died after he and a companion were reported missing in Glen Coe on Saturday.

The pair had travelled to the area from Nottinghamshire as part of a larger group.

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