Irish doctors help at scene of avalanche
TWO IRISH climbers, a father and son, were among the first on the scene of the avalanche that claimed the lives of nine people in the Mont Blanc area of the Alps this week.
The two men are medical doctors and assisted the rescue efforts in the French Alps following the avalanche near Chamonix.
An image used by British media yesterday shows Paul MacMahon, a paediatrician from Waterford, and his son Peter, a radiologist, attending the scene.
The father and son were climbing with a guide lower down the mountain on the same route as those tragically killed near the border with Switzerland.
They did not witness the avalanche but were brought to the scene as medical practitioners to give assistance.
“It all happened in an instant; it was over in a flash.” Paul MacMahon said. It was a random, happenstance event, he added.
“We happened to be there. We did what we could and tried to reassure people,” Dr MacMahon said. They were among the first there and had to give assistance for some time before the helicopters arrived.
Three British climbers have been named among the dead, including Roger Payne, former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council.
The avalanche happened early on Thursday morning when ice from a cliff high on Mont Maudit fell on the highest of a group of 28 mountaineers of different nationalities. Thursday’s avalanche was the mostly deadly alpine mountaineering accident since 2008, when eight climbers died in the Mont Blanc region.