Mont Blanc accident: 3 Italian climbers found dead

Alpine rescuers found the bodies of three Italian climbers on Mont Blanc on Friday.

The climbers went missing in the French Alps on Tuesday as they attempted to climb Europe's highest peak.

Rescuers recovered the body of Luca Lombardini, while the bodies of his brother and his fiancee were located nearby but are yet to be retrieved.

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"They are probably buried under rocks and ice in an area covering a few dozen square meters," an official at the rescue service was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

According to Italy's ANSA news agency, the ascent was a birthday present for Luca.

Officials believe the group was crossing a ridge at an altitude of about 3,500 meters (11,500 feet), when they slipped and fell together.

Their bodies were found at the foot of the Aiguille Verte ("Green Needle"), one of the peaks in the Mont Blanc massif.

Fifteen people have died trying to climb the 4,810-metre (10,500-foot) mountain so far this season, compared to last year's season total of 14 dead and two missing.

The European heat wave has made conditions more dangerous for climbers in recent weeks.

aw/rc (AFP, AP)