France: Six French mountaineers die in Alps fall

Villar-d'Arene village, close to the scene of the accident in the French Alps, on Sunday
Image caption The bodies have been flown to the nearby village of Villar-d'Arene for identification

Six French mountaineers have died in the Alps, officials say.

A British hiker found the bodies near the Neige-Cordier summit in the French Alps, which has an altitude of 2,700m (8,850 feet). They were roped together in groups of three.

Prosecutor Remy Avon said the reason for their fall was unclear

Earlier a local mayor told AFP news agency that it could have been caused by "a slide of snow and stones mixed together".

The climbers appear to have died while making an ascent in good weather on Saturday, police said.

The bodies have been flown to the village of Villar-d'Arene for identification.

A local official said that the dead included a 16-year-old boy, two men and three women aged between 42 and 64, according to AFP.

The hiker discovered the climbers' bodies as he followed the same route as they had taken a day before, mountain rescue police said.

The mayor, Xavier Cret, said that the climbers appeared to have died after falling some 200m (650ft).

It is thought they stayed overnight in a mountain hut before attempting an ascent to a point at about 3,600m (11,800 feet) in the Massif des Ecrins.

They were in a narrow chasm used by both skiers and climbers and, according to a local official, carried with them the ice-picks and other equipment needed for a difficult climb.

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