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POLICE

Parents release teachers after hostage taking

A group of dissatisfied parents have released several teachers they were holding captive inside a Catholic school in the south of France. They accused one of the teachers of incompetence and wanted him fired.

On Wednesday morning, parents released the headmistress and several teachers they were holding captive, after the local diocese agreed to fire the teacher in charge of the CM1 class (ages 9-10).

The “hostage-takers” alleged the children were falling behind in school and that the teacher, who was in his first year of teaching, was failing to maintain order in the classroom.

The headmistress of the Notre-Dame de Caderot school in the town of Berre l’Etang admitted relations with the teacher have been difficult. A new teacher is to instruct the CM1 pupils until the end of the year.

“We are relieved and we hope that the situation in the classroom and the school will calm down now,” said one the of the parents, Elisabeth Planes, according to daily France Soir.

French Education Minister Luc Chatel has said he regretted the incident and said the education system had its failings. Trade unions representing teachers condemned the hostage taking and said the parents’ methods were inconsiderate.

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POLICE

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”

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