A British skier has been killed in an avalanche in the Italian Alps, along with a New Zealander who lived in the UK.
They are thought to have been skiing off-piste when they were hit by an avalanche in a valley near the resort of Courmayeur, in the northern Italian region of Valle d’Aosta.
The British victim of the avalanche was named as Matt Ziegler, 43, who is believed to be of Swiss origin, while the New Zealander was named as Katherine Clarke, 39. Both lived in London.
Mr Ziegler was reportedly a lawyer working in the Geneva office of Barclays and was set to return home to central London on the day of the avalanche.
His wife, Victoria, 43, became concerned when he missed his flight home on Sunday. A friend told The Times: "Matt said he was going skiing with friends at the weekend before flying home.
"Matt was the most experienced and safest skier she knew. He never took risks, always carried a collapsible spade to dig himself out. She knew he was missing and could have been killed but she had hope."
The 43-year-old was born in Surrey before he attended Radley College and later studied law at the London School of Economics.
Ms Ziegler read law at Trinity College, Cambridge before the pair met whilst taking the United States Bar at New York University.
They had two children, aged eight and five. They reportedly had a flat in Switzerland they was often used for family ski trips.
The Italian press named a French victim as Nicolas Bruno Vergez, 36, and a Pole as Wespazjan Wisla, 38.
The alarm was raised when the skiers failed to turn up at a meeting point with friends on Sunday.
Using sniffer dogs and helicopters, Italian alpine rescue workers found the bodies of three of the skiers on Monday morning and the body of the fourth later in the day.
They are believed to have been engulfed by the avalanche and were reportedly buried under six feet of snow.
Efforts to recover the bodies were hampered by extremely steep terrain and the risk of further avalanches.
It was a bad weekend for fatalities in the Alps, with at least nine people losing their lives, including those struck by the avalanche near Courmayeur.
A snowboarder was killed in the northern Italian region of Lombardy and an 18-year-old skier was hit by another avalanche in the South Tyrol region near the border with Austria.
An avalanche in France’s Savoie region killed an off-piste skier on Saturday.
In Switzerland, an avalanche on Saturday swept away a man and a woman in the canton of Bern.
The man was killed and the woman is recovering in hospital.
In Austria, an avalanche hit two men aged 30 and 52, in Carinthia, killing the older man but leaving the other one unscathed.