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Search on for avalanche survivors

ANNECY, August 24 – Three helicopters, dozens of rescuers and specially-trained dogs searched Sunday for survivors of a major avalanche that swept down in the French Alps injuring at least seven hikers, police said.

The avalanche, 200 metres long and 50 metres wide, happened before dawn Sunday and appeared to have been caused by a block of ice that started rolling down the mountain, police said.

Captain Daniel Pueyo told AFP it was unclear how many other climbers might have been on the 4,250-metre (13,900-feet) high Mont-Blanc du Tacul, in the Mont Blanc range on the French border with Italy, at the time of the avalanche.

Those rescued included five French climbers and three Italians, aged between 26 and 37 years. Seven of them were lightly injured.

Some of them had been found stuck in deep snow by rescuers while others had managed to free themselves.

Traditionally climbers on high mountains such as Mont-Blanc du Tacul begin their ascent well before dawn.

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