PARIS -- French police said nine people were killed on Thursday when a six-foot-thick wall of snow came cascading down on two groups of climbers who were on a climbing expedition in the French Alps. Police said two persons were found alive in the snow, but four people were still missing. A total of nine climbers were shifted to a hospital with minor injuries. The casualties included climbers from Britain, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. However, the nationalities of the missing people remain unknown. The two groups were caught in the avalanche which hit the northern section of Mont Maudit in the Mont Blanc range, close to Chamonix on the French-Italian border. A mountain rescue squad was dispatched at around 5:25 a.m. after a sheet of ice dislodged and triggered the avalanche. A Chamonix official was quoted by
French newspaper Le Figaro as saying that the weather had been fine on Thursday morning, so the climbers had no idea that an avalanche could occur. The paper said the route that the two groups chose is frequently used by climbers trying to conquer the mighty Mont Blanc.