Prayers will be said today for four people who died in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.

The Rev Moira Herkes, who will lead a private service at St Munda’s Church in Glencoe, said it was “the worst accident to happen here for many years” and that the victims would not be forgotten.

The climbers were among a party of six on Bidean Nam Bian, a mountain near Glencoe.

It is believed they were descending from a peak on the south side of the valley when the snow-covered slope they were crossing broke away, engulfing five of them and sending them hundreds of feet down the mountain.

Four people killed in Glencoe Avalanche
Bidean Nam Bian is a mountain with a height in excess of 3,000ft

Emergency services were alerted to the accident at about 2pm yesterday and a major search operation involving two mountain rescue teams and police dogs was launched.

The four people – two men and two women – were found dead beneath the snow.

One male climber, who stayed with the teams to help with the search, is safe and well while a woman is in a serious condition in Belford hospital in Fort William.

John Grieve, leader of Glencoe mountain rescue team, which co-ordinated the search, said the alarm was initially raised by two climbers Рwho were not part of the group of six Рwhen they discovered one of the casualties lying in the snow.

But, soon after, police were contacted by the male survivor from the climbing party, who told them more people were missing.

Mr Grieve, who is in Spain and was not part of the search, said: “The first call to police was from two other people who had been on the mountain, they found someone lying next to where they were climbing.

Glencoe map in Scotland
The avalanche occurred on a slope in Glencoe

“So, the assumption was that it was just one casualty, but it became clear that there were others missing when they heard from the man who is safe.”

He said the dead climbers were located using a technique called “probing”, where a metal stick is pushed into the snow.

“I’m not sure how deeply buried they were, but using that technique would suggest it was more than a metre,” Mr Grieve said.

All of the missing climbers, who are yet to be named, were located within four hours of the alarm being raised.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is an appalling tragedy and our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been lost.

“To lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating.”

Bidean Nam Bian is a Munro – a mountain with a height in excess of 3,000ft – with a number of different climbs.

Anyone who is concerned about relatives climbing in the area are advised to contact Northern Constabulary’s control room on 01463 715555.

Scotland Avalanche: Prayers For Four Victims – Sky News
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