France cuts access to 'crowded' Mont Blanc

Temporary decree restricting access to the summit due to safety concerns came into force at weekend

Access to Mont Blanc has been limited for the next eight days due to severe overcrowding on France and Europe's highest mountain.

Officials in the Haute-Savoie said the order, which came into force over the weekend, and applies to the highly popular "Royal Route" , was needed because of "very serious risks to public order".

Only climbers who have an overnight reservation at the refuge du Goûter on an outcrop leading to the 4,810-metre (15,780-feet) peak will be allowed to set out for the top of Mont Blanc via the most frequented route.

Authorities for the Haute-Savoie region said the shelter's overnight capacity of 120 people was frequently being exceeded, which presented "safety and public order" risks.

"Access to the summit of Mont Blanc via this route... is only permitted to those who have a reservation at the refuge du Goûter," an official statement reads.

The temporary restrictions are in place to ensure that climbers have adequate accommodation for an overnight stay, it adds.

Last year 14 people died and two disappeared trying to climb the mountain, up from nine deaths in 2016. So far this year at least three deaths have been recorded.

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