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At least 3 killed in avalanche that struck French Alps on Wednesday

By By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 15, 2016, 12:41:22 AM EST

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At least three people, including two students, were killed in an avalanche that struck the French Alps on Wednesday afternoon.

French officials confirmed three fatalities in the ski resort of Les Deux Alpes.

A group of 10 schoolchildren and one teacher were involved in the avalanche. Two students were killed. A Ukrainian man who was not a member of the group was also killed, according to the Associated Press.

Rescue efforts are underway after French Alps avalanche hits group of schoolchildren


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Four of the students were found in cardiac arrest. The teacher was evacuated to a hospital in Grenoble after being found unconscious.

French officials report that all students of the group have been identified and brought to safety. Search and rescue efforts continue to "identify possible victims still buried."

More than 80 people, including two dog handlers, are involved in the search and rescue efforts.

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"Periods of snow on Thursday will be followed by more scattered snow showers on Friday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said. "Colder air will arrive on Friday and hold temperatures at Les Deux Alpes to around 9 below zero C (middle teens F)."

After days of heavy snow, a warning was issued for the area. The avalanche struck on a closed slope.

"Before the current snowfall, much of eastern France had been experiencing temperatures slightly higher than normal for January," AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Spamer said.

DRAMATIC: Avalanche slams over small village in France


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Significant changes in air temperature will alter the temperature gradient of the snowpack, leading to unstable conditions.

"...when temperature changes more than about 1 degree centigrade per 10 cm, the snow metamorphoses into weak, sugary, faceted crystals, which cause the lion’s share of avalanche accidents," according to the National Avalanche Center.

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