Four hikers die in Swiss Alps after becoming trapped in storm

Five others in critical condition after bad weather forces them to spend night outdoors

 A file photograph of Pigne d’Arolla mountain near Arolla, Switzerland. Police in southwestern Switzerland said on Monday that  four Alpine climbers had died and another five were in critical condition after becoming trapped overnight by an unexpected storm of snow and high winds. Photograph: Kantonspolizei Valais//Keystone via AP

A file photograph of Pigne d’Arolla mountain near Arolla, Switzerland. Police in southwestern Switzerland said on Monday that four Alpine climbers had died and another five were in critical condition after becoming trapped overnight by an unexpected storm of snow and high winds. Photograph: Kantonspolizei Valais//Keystone via AP

 

Four climbers have died and another five are in a critical condition after they became trapped overnight on the Swiss Alps during an unexpected storm.

Police in Valais in south-western Switzerland said seven helicopters were used to rescue 14 hikers from France, Germany and Italy in the Pigne d’Arolla region.

Valais police spokesman Markus Rieder said the climbers were caught off-guard by high winds and snow and were forced to spend the night outdoors.

Several of those rescued were suffering from hypothermia, with three dying in hospital. A fourth climber was reportedly killed in a fall. Police said the group had been trying to reach the Vignettes hikers hut at 3,157m in the Alps.

Continental Europe has suffered turbulent weather over the past few weeks, with unseasonable spells of hot and cold. In Germany, firefighters pumped rainwater from basements and cleared flooded road tunnels after a storm swept through parts of the west overnight.

The Aachen region was hardest hit, with rescue services receiving hundreds of calls. Police said nobody was harmed. France, Belgium and Luxembourg were also affected by heavy rain and hail. - AP