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FRENCH ALPS

Avalanche in French Alps kills British woman

A British woman has died after getting caught in an avalanche as she was hiking with two other people on the Mont Blanc, rescue services said on Sunday.

the Massif of Mont-Blanc mountains and l'aiguille du Midi in the French Alps
This picture from February 2022 shows a view of the Massif of Mont-Blanc mountains and l'aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. Rescue services have said that a woman was killed by an avalanche in one of the range's largest glaciers. Photo: OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

The accident happened on Saturday on the Argentiere Glacier, one of the Mont Blanc mountain range’s biggest glaciers, falling within the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region.

The Mont Blanc, on the French-Italian border, is western Europe’s highest mountain at 4,800 metres (nearly 16,000 feet) and attracts 20,000 hikers and skiers every year.

The 45-year old was found buried under the snow, and rescue services arrived too late to save her.

Police have ordered an investigation of the accident and an autopsy.

READ ALSO: France, Italy or Switzerland – which country is Mont Blanc in?

The two other hikers were unharmed, authorities said.

The Mont Blanc’s popularity poses a growing security and environmental challenge, local officials have warned.

Warmer temperatures in recent years have melted permafrost, raising the risk of rock falls on the most popular routes.

In August, authorities closed down two popular mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

Melting snow is also believed to help trigger avalanches.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Natural disaster costs hit 23-year high in France

Natural disasters cost French insurers €10 billion last year, a two-decade high as such events become more frequent and intense, the head of the sector's federation said on Thursday.

Natural disaster costs hit 23-year high in France

“It was an annus horribilis,” France Assureurs president Florence Lustman told Europe 1 radio, citing the hailstorms, floods and droughts that hit the country last year.

Natural disasters cost the industry €3.5 billion on average per year between 2017-2021.

The 2022 figure is the highest since storms pummelled France in 1999.

The insurance federation said the bill from natural disasters will exceed €140 billion over the next 30 years, double the amount for the previous three decades.

Reinsurance giant Swiss Re said in December that natural and man-made catastrophes caused $268 billion of economic losses worldwide in 2022.

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