At least four people have died and five are missing after an avalanche hit popular French Alpine resort of Tignes early February 13, 2017.
The avalanche, the worst to hit the Alps this season, was 400 m (1 300 feet) wide. It occurred at 09:35 UTC (10:35 local time) in the Savoie region of the central Alps, near the Italian border on a particularly high and steep peak in the Tovière area when ski resorts are typically full of children.
Media reports mention a group of eight tourists and a guide skied off-piste at an altitude of 2 100 m (6 900 feet). According to emergency services, the group was from a 'sports association'. Several of the victims are believed to have been under 20.
"Five people are still buried under a huge mass of snow," a rescue official said.
The resort said in a statement that the avalanche appeared to have been set off by a group of skiers higher up.
Two helicopters, rescue teams and sniffer dogs are searching for the missing.
Local officials declared the avalanche risk throughout the region to be high, at a rating of three out of five.
There were 13 previous skiing accidents in the Alps and Pyrenees this winter, killing three people, BBC said. Last winter, there were 45 accidents, causing 21 deaths.
Featured image: Avalanche at Tignes, France - February 13, 2017. Credit: Radio Val d'Isère, Suzanne Lemelin