GENEVA — Swiss police said Tuesday a total of six people have died after an unexpected snowstorm trapped a group of Alpine hikers in southwestern Switzerland. The victims were identified as five Italians and a Bulgarian woman.
The regional Valais police department said one other person remains in critical condition following the sudden blast of snow and high winds in the Pigne d’Arolla region.
The storm left a total of 14 hikers spending the night from Sunday to Monday out in the cold with no shelter.
Police spokesman Markus Rieder said a 52-year-old Bulgarian woman died in the hospital on Tuesday. Two Italian couples — aged in their mid-40s and mid-50s — also died from hypothermia after being evacuated to the hospital in a rescue operation involving seven helicopters.
The sixth victim was a 59-year-old Italian man, who was guiding a group of 10 hikers and fell to his death at the site.
Police said a 72-year-old Swiss woman, a 56-year-old French woman, and a 43-year-old Italian woman remained in hospital Tuesday.
The sudden bad weather trapped two groups of hikers who had been trying to reach the Vignettes hikers’ hut at 3,157 meters (10,357 feet) in the Alps, forcing them to spend the night under the elements amid freezing temperatures.
Three French people, a German woman and an Italian man suffered light injuries from hypothermia.
Europe has experienced turbulent weather recently, with unseasonable spells of hot and cold temperatures.