Irish skier killed in Swiss Alps avalanche named

Limerick man was alone when avalanche struck, say police

Avalanche experts near the tearoff edge of a big avalanche on the south-facing slope of the Piz Nair above St. Moritz. The avalanche killed one person who was skiing off the piste. Photograph:  EPA/Giancarlo Cattaneo

Avalanche experts near the tearoff edge of a big avalanche on the south-facing slope of the Piz Nair above St. Moritz. The avalanche killed one person who was skiing off the piste. Photograph: EPA/Giancarlo Cattaneo

Mon, Dec 30, 2013, 01:00

The Irish man who was killed in the Swiss Alps on St Stephen’s Day has been named as Michael Clifford from Ballygran, Co Limerick.

In his early 30s, he was taking part in a cross-country ski when an avalanche struck in the Rotunda region, according to police in the Uri part of Switzerland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been providing consular assistance to Mr Clifford’s family in recent days.

He was a resident of the canton of Zürich, and police were notified he was missing after his girlfriend raised the alarm at about 9.20pm, local time, on St Stephen’s Day.

A police spokesman said Mr Clifford was alone at the time of the accident. It was added that the ski route he was on was one taken only by experienced skiers and that weather conditions deteriorated rapidly in the hours leading up to the avalanche.

His death brings to at least five the number of people who have died in the Alps in recent days. A second man died in the Swiss ski resort of St Moritz on the same day.

A teenager who was skiing off-piste with friends near the resort of Claviere, in Piedmont, was found dead after being swept away by an avalanche on Saturday.

Some hours earlier two Italian snowboarders were killed in an avalanche that carried them down a mountain near Pila, in the Aosta Valley. The bodies of Paolo Pendola (30) and Fabio Oneto (33) were found later on Saturday. (Additional reporting: Guardian)