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Avalanche 'hurled us about like a washing machine'

A survivor of the French Alps avalanche that killed nine climbers said he and others were tossed around by a wave of snow that hit without a sound and trussed him up "like a sausage" in his climbing rope.

Daniel Rossetto, a 63-year-old guide described being rolled down the mountain by the slide as he was leading two Danish climbers. All three survived.

When the avalanche did hit, he said, it was "without sound, just a gust."

"You are trapped inside, it tosses you around. With each shock, you ask yourself if it's going to get worse. It's like I was in a washing machine."


Local officials, meanwhile, insisted it would have been impossible to foresee Thursday's deadly avalanche near Chamonix.

Three Britons, three Germans, two Spaniards and a Swiss climber were killed and 14 people were injured on one of the most popular routes to the summit of Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest peak at 15,782ft (4,810m).

Early summer storms had left behind heavy snow but the weather had cleared in the past several dayst.

Authorities say the avalanche on Mont Maudit at 13,100ft (4,000m) was caused either by the collapse of an ice cliff breaking off or by a climber inadvertently setting a slab loose.

A memorial service was to be held today in Chamonix.