Police killed after 1,000m fall on Mont Blanc

Police killed after 1,000m fall on Mont Blanc
File photo of climbers on the Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc. Photo: Christian Bortes
A police training exercise on Mont Blanc ended in tragedy this week when three climbers from the French gendarmerie plunged 1,000 metres to their deaths. It is believed the officers fell after their climbing rope became detached.

The three officers from the French gendarmerie were crossing the Mont Blanc Massif from the Aiguille du Midi to the Aiguille du Plan as part of a training exercise before they took up their posts at the police ski instruction center in Chamonix.

The three, aged 29, 33 and 44, two of whom were fathers, left on Tuesday morning when the failed to report back at the end of the day fears began to mount over their wellbeing.

At around 8pm a search and rescue operation was launched but a shortwhile later, at around 9.30pm, two bodies were discovered at the foot of the Aiguille du Midi.Police are still searching for the third body.

According to the initial investigation it appears the rope they were using to climb the mountain became detached resulting in the men falling around 1,000 metres.

“It was an absolute vertical drop. The officers had no chance,” Pierre-Henri Brandet a spokesman for the Interior Ministry told Europe1 radio.

Colonel François Bertrand group commander for the Haute Savoie department was at a loss to explain how the accident happened.

“It was just basic training. The conditions were generally good, there was no particular risk. Other gendarmes had done the same route on the same day,” he said.

France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls has sent his condolences to the families of the three men as well as to the officers' brigade.

It is the second time in a matter of months the gendarmerie has been hit by tragedy in the French Alps after two mountaineers died earlier this year.

Earlier this year a father and son from Britain were killed on Mont Blanc when they fell near the Bossons glacier.

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