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Three Italian climbers found dead on Mont Blanc: rescuers

© AFP | The accident brings to 15 the death toll on the 4,810-metre (10,500-foot) Mont Blanc during this year's climbing season so far

LYON (AFP) - 

Three Italian climbers were found dead Friday on Mont Blanc in the French Alps, three days after they set out to summit Europe's highest peak, rescue workers said.

The body of Luca Lombardini was recovered by the mountain police rescue service. Those of his brother and his fiancee were located nearby but have yet to be retrieved.

"They are probably buried under rocks and ice in an area covering a few dozen square metres," an official at the rescue service said.

They were found around 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) at the foot of the Aiguille Verte ("Green Needle"), one of the peaks in the Mont Blanc massif.

"They were going along a ridge at an altitude of 3,400 to 3,500 metres (11,100-11,500 feet), and it seems they slipped and fell together," the official said.

The first body was recovered after rescuers cut the cord linking the three climbers, and attempts to recover the other two will resume Saturday morning.

The ascent was a birthday present for Luca, who was joined by his fiancee and his brother Alessandro, himself a mountain rescue worker in Bardonecchia, near the French border, Italy's Ansa news agency reported.

The accident brings to 15 the death toll on the 4,810-metre (10,500-foot) Mont Blanc during this year's climbing season so far, after 14 people died and two went missing last year.

Overcrowding and rockslides have increased the risks for the dozens of climbers who attempt to reach the top each day, prompting officials last month to start limiting access to the most popular route up.

© 2018 AFP