Searchers find body of French snowmobiler who crashed through ice

Canadian searchers on Friday found the body of one of five French snowmobilers whose machines fell through the ice of a frozen lake, police said.

Searchers find body of French snowmobiler who crashed through ice
Canadian police searching for the bodies on snowmobiles. Photo: HO / Sûreté du Québec / AFP
A spokesman acknowledged that the chances of finding the group alive had dimmed, but police were “keeping up hope” of recovering their bodies.
The search for the snowmobilers includes divers, sonar operators and police backed by helicopters in the area about 225 kilometers (140 miles) north of Quebec City, and is expected to resume again at daybreak.
Quebec provincial police spokesman Hugues Beaulieu said the body discovered Friday “was found more than two kilometers from the initial search area in Grande Decharge River” at the mouth of Lake Saint-Jean where the accident happened.
“At the moment, we can't identify the body,” French Consul General in Quebec Laurent Barbot said during a press briefing. “The process is underway and the families have of course been informed,” he added.
The group included eight French tourists, who were snowmobiling Tuesday evening in an area that is off limits to snowmobiles because the ice is thinner there.
Three snowmobilers survived with minor injuries. They returned to France on Thursday evening, according to the consulate.
Their 42-year-old Canadian guide died on Wednesday in a hospital after trying to rescue members of the group.
Police have recovered six snowmobiles at the bottom of the lake near where the accident occurred, and provincial authorities have pledged to tighten safety measures on the use of the machines.
Investigators do not know why the group left the approved paths to venture “off-piste” at nightfall, but some experts believe they may have been trying to take a shortcut to their destination.

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France issues first snow warnings of season as wintry weather arrives

The south east of France was braced for some rough wintry weather on Thursday with snow, icy conditions and torrential rain and flooding set to hit the region. Residents have been advised to take precautions.

France issues first snow warnings of season as wintry weather arrives
Illustration Photo: AFP

UPDATE: CLICK HERE to read the latest news on how heavy snow has caused widespread chaos in south-east France



The country's weather service Météo France placed 11 departments in the south east of the country on alert for either snow and ice or downpours that bring a risk of flooding.

The départéments of Saône-et-Loire, Rhône, Loire and Ardèche were placed on Orange alert – the second highest warning level – on Friday morning for snow and icy conditions. The départéments of Ain, Drôme and Isère were also placed on alert for the same wintery conditions on Wednesday evening. (see map below)

The winter weather warnings are due to remain in place until Friday morning. Météo France warns that the whole of the Rhône-Alpes region could see snowfall on Thursday afternoon.

Further south the départéments of Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhône and Var were on alert for heavy rainfall while Alpes-Maritimes and Var also had warnings in place for coastal flooding.

Residents in the départements with weather warnings in place were advised to take precaution when travelling and avoid unnecessary trips.

In areas at risk of flooding, drivers are warned not to attempt to cross roads that are submerged.

Those who live in coastal départéments are advised to avoid going near the sea. 


The general weather map for Thursday showed how snow could hit parts of the south east whilst it was a different story in the north of the country.

But across France on Thursday temperatures took a dip as the first real cold snap of the season arrived, with temperatures more like those seen in January than November.

In Burgundy and parts of the east of the country like Alsace the mercury will fall to around 0C to 3C on Thursday morning, while much of the rest of the country will see temperatures between 2C and 6C.

It will be slightly less chilly near the Mediterranean, with the mercury forecast to hit 10C.