Geneva (AFP) - Three Spanish cross-country skiers died after being engulfed by an avalanche in the Swiss Alps, police said Sunday.
Police in the canton of Valais said two fellow skiers survived the avalanche, which hit Saturday afternoon as they headed for the Fiescheralp area at an altitude of some 2,450 metres (8,000 feet).
Spain's foreign ministry confirmed to AFP the three casualties were Spanish nationals.
The ministry did not give further details but said its officials were in contact with Swiss authorities.
"According to the investigation, the victims are Spaniards. Formal identification of the deceased is under way," a police statement said, adding that another group nearby managed to raise the alert.
The five swept away were all wearing detection devices, helping rescuers to locate the two survivors and airlift them to hospital.
However, poor visibility hampered an operation which had to be broken off overnight before rescuers recovered three bodies on Sunday.
Valais police had Thursday warned that fresh snowfalls and high winds had notably increased the risk of avalanches above 2,000 metres.