Zermatt: Family of skiers found dead in Swiss Alps 'froze to death after trying to build cave'

Five missing skiers found dead in the Swiss Alps “froze to death” after trying to build a cave to protect themselves from the elements, according to rescuers.

The five skiers were found dead near the famous Matterhorn mountain on Sunday, while an urgent search remained underway on Monday for a sixth skier from the group who was still missing.

The cross-country skiers, five of them members of the same family, went missing around Tete Blanche mountain on Saturday on the Zermatt-Arolla path, near the Matterhorn mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.

The group went missing during a ski tour and their bodies were discovered on Sunday, police said.

The skiers were between the ages of 21 and 58, according to an earlier police statement. Five belonged to one family from the Valais canton, while a sixth person was from the canton of Fribourg.

Police did not immediately confirm the identity of those who were found dead.

Anjan Truffer, director of helicopter rescue company Zermatt Mountain Rescue, told Swiss media outlet Blick: “The picture we found was ugly...We saw that the ski tourers had tried to build a cave and protect themselves from the wind.

“The ski tourers froze to death at altitude, disorientated,' Mr Truffer added.

He said weather on Saturday daytime was good, but added: “We knew it would get worse at night and on Sunday. They were caught in the storm.”

Christian Varone, commander of the Valais cantonal police, told Blick of the poor weather conditions in the area, which is experiencing “tremendous wind”, cold, and poor visibility.

Zermatt is a popular mountain resort renowned for skiing and attracts tourists from around the world.

Last month a British skier died following a “heavy fall” at a resort in the French Alps.

Paramedics were scrambled to the scene after the man, 30, was fatally injured on the slopes in Serre Chevalier.

The accident happened in the La Salle-les-Alpes area of the slopes.

Last year a British man in his fifties also died during a climb on Mont Blanc in France.

Another British tourist also died from a heart attack at a ski resort in the French Alps.

The 63-year-old collapsed at the popular resort of La Plagne in the valley of the Tarentaise.

A French police spokesman told The Sun: "Emergency workers were at the scene extremely quickly, but the man could not be revived.

"He was declared dead by the Modane mountain aid station."