LYON An avalanche killed at least three people and seriously injured others when it swept into skiers, including a group of schoolchildren, on a closed slope in the French Alps on Wednesday, the interior ministry said.
The dead were two teenagers, aged 14 and 16, and a Ukrainian adult skier who was not with the school group, according to police and an official from the Les Deux Alpes resort, which is about 50 km (31 miles) from the Italian border.
A teacher had led the group onto the black-rated slope that had been closed due to the risk of avalanches, regional state government official Jean-Paul Bonnetain said.
Three teenagers suffered cardiac arrest while the teacher was also seriously injured, Bonnetain told journalists.
Apart from the two teenagers who died, all other students from the group of 19 had been accounted for and were safe, the ministry said.
Rescue teams worked into the evening searching for other skiers who may have been buried in the snow.
The avalanche happened in late afternoon, after a large sheet of snow broke off above the slope following several days of heavy snowfall.
(Reporting by Catherine Lagrange and the Paris Newsroom, writing by Leigh Thomas, editing by Richard Balmforth)