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Inquest into pupil avalanche deaths

School party and ski guide killed in avalanche “should never should have gone out”

THE THREE teenagers and ski guide killed in an avalanche in the French Alps should never have gone out, a surviving pupil has said.

Alan Lorenzo, 16, told the AFP news service the trip “should never have taken place” because of the danger.

“All of a sudden I heard a rumble and the avalanche knocked me down. I fell backwards to try and get myself back up.

“The avalanche hit me in the face, the others got it on their side, they were mown down and covered in snow. It was powerful, it was horrible.

“I had my head buried in the snow but I was able to free myself a bit and wait for the rescuers. I used one of my poles to try and get out and managed to make a hole so I could breathe,” he said.

Yesterday he joined pupils from the lycée Reinach de La Motte-Servolex in a memorial ceremony at the nearby Valmeinier church.

The four deaths make the avalanche, which took place at 2,600 on the Col des Marches in Savoy, the most deadly in the department this season.

An inquiry into “homicide and accidental injury” has been opened to find who was responsible for the deaths and why the party of seven children and their guide were in an area with a level four (of five) avalanche risk.

The three dead pupils were aged 15-17, two survived and one student remains in hospital in Grenoble suffering from hypothermia but is said to be in a stable condition.

Their guide, Francis Dumas, 54, from Savoy, who was also killed in the incident, was described a “good professional, known in the industry”.

Investigators are determining whether the avalanche was caused by other skiers or was a natural occurrence.

Photo: Pupils mourn at memorial ceremony
Afp/ Jean-Pierre Clatot

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