A member of the high mountain police (PGHM) based at Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée in the Alpes-Maritimes department has been killed by an avalanche during a training exercise in the ski resort of Auron this morning.
The exercise, attended by a dozen mountain rescue personnel, was to practise the evacuation of a chair lift and began early this morning. At around 9h00 a slab avalanche hit three members of the group including the head of the CRS post at Saint-Martin-Vésubie and two members of the PGHM. The accident occured in the area of the Dome chairlift. All three men were taken to hospital, the head of the CRS post and one gendarme suffered multiple fractures but are not in danger, the third gendarme succumbed to his injuries. A member of the piste patrol was seriously injured by an avalanche in the resort on the 18th of February. The avalanche risk was Considerable (3/5) at the time of the accident.
There is a bit of a row going on in France between one of the Police unions and the local state governor (préfet). They say that the rescue operation was hampered (they are talking about a 20-25 minute delay) because the Civil Security helicopter was not available due to a visit by the French President Jacques Chirac to Cannes.
In the end a helicopter was sent from Digne-les-Bains (PGHM de Jausiers?) although given the scale of the operation one might have expected this helicopter to be scrambled anyway. There are also a number of private helicopters available in the region which can be requestioned for rescue work.
Nice Matin has named the officier who died as François Widmann, he had a wife and child. This is the second Gendarme to be killed this year while helping with ski resort security. Even for experts the conditions can be quite hard to evaluate.
Posted by davidof
on Friday, 10 March, 2006 at 01:38 PM
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