French Alps avalanche kills five soldiers on training exercise

An avalanche in the French Alps has swept away a military unit on a training exercise, killing five soldiers and injuring several others.

MP Julien Aubert confirmed the deaths to BFM television, saying that the soldiers were training off-piste in Valfrejus in the Savoie region.

He said the group was a mixture of veterans and new soldiers.

Jean-Claude Raffin, mayor of the nearest town, Modane, said the soldiers were out for an all-day skiing session when the avalanche hit.

He said six people were injured, three seriously.

The group of about 50 men were skiing at an altitude of around 2,000m.

Julien Noel, director of the ski area, said the location is well-known for skiing and normally is not known as particularly dangerous.

He said the slopes were closed after the avalanche on Monday for safety reasons.

The incident comes just days after three people, including two students, were killed when a school group in the Alps was swept away by an avalanche.

A French teacher who took the students onto a closed skiing piste has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The 47-year-old, who was seriously injured, was charged at his bedside in hospital in the south-central city of Grenoble.

The victims, a 16-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy, were from a school in Lyon. The 56-year-old Ukrainian man who was also killed was not part of the group.


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