02. April 2024

Major operation after avalanche accident on the Riffelberg

On Monday afternoon, an avalanche broke loose off-piste on the Riffelberg above Zermatt. Several people were swept away by the avalanche. Air Zermatt was deployed with four helicopters at the same time.

On Easter Monday shortly after 2 p.m., Air Zermatt received an alarm from the Valais cantonal rescue organisation (emergency number 144) about an avalanche on the Riffelberg above Zermatt. Eyewitnesses reported that several off-piste skiers had been caught in the avalanche outside the marked piste. Air Zermatt immediately responded to the emergency call with a large-scale operation. Four Air Zermatt helicopters took off immediately to fly avalanche search dog handlers, rescue teams and appropriate equipment to the scene of the accident.

A total of 45 rescuers were called out to search the avalanche cone for missing persons, including eight avalanche search dog handlers, 13 rescue specialists, 15 firefighters as well as ski instructors and piste patrollers from the region.

Extensive search operation

In the event of an avalanche burial, every minute counts. This is why the rescue teams use all available search equipment to locate buried victims as quickly as possible. In addition to avalanche search dogs, technical aids were also used, including avalanche transceivers and avalanche probes. The rescue teams also used RECCO technology to locate buried victims.

During the rescue operation, the rescuers managed to locate four people. The rescuers were able to save one person alive from the snow. This injured person was then transported to hospital by the Air Zermatt rescue helicopter. Unfortunately, three other people lost their lives in the avalanche accident. 

The Avalanche Institute has warned of a high avalanche danger in large parts of northern Upper Valais for Easter Monday. This corresponds to the second-highest danger level.


In order to make our content accessible to a wide audience, this text was translated using Artificial Intelligence.


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