Four of eight mountaineers missing and presumed dead after an avalanche on the Mont Blanc massif in France are possibly Germans, an Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday.
Rescuers suspended their search on Monday
French authorities presume that eight alpinists were killed by an ice avalanche on Mont Blanc du Tacul on Sunday, Aug. 24. Three have been identified as Swiss, and one as Austrian mountain guide.
Four more missing mountaineers were initially believed to be Austrians, but they were probably Germans, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, spokesman of the Austrian foreign ministry, told German dpa news agency.
The office of High Mountain Gendarmes based in Chamonix said rescuers suspended the search Monday after flying over the zone and finding no clues about those missing.
"The zone is very exposed to serac (ice block) falls," Jean-Yves Claudon of the local police rescue service told reporters. "There is no question of risking the life of rescuers to recover bodies. We're not in an emergency situation any more."
The avalanche was set off when a block of ice some 200 meters (656 feet) broke off a mountain face onto a commonly used hiking trail.