Terrifying moment deadly avalanche sweeps down Swiss mountain killing US teen and two adults at top Alpine ski resort

THIS is the terrifying moment a monstrous avalanche swept down a Swiss mountain killing a US teen and two adults at a top Alpine ski resort.

Chilling footage shows the deadly wave of ice and snow cascading down from the peaks of the Riffelberg in Switzerland, as horrified skiers watch on from afar.

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Skiers and holidaymakers watch on as a huge avalanche roars down a Swiss mountainCredit: YouTube Alexander Green
A close-up look shows the monstrous wave of ice and snow engulfing the mountainside

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A close-up look shows the monstrous wave of ice and snow engulfing the mountainsideCredit: YouTube Alexander Green
The tragedy sparked a frantic search for survivors, with around 45 officials and four helicopters involved

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The tragedy sparked a frantic search for survivors, with around 45 officials and four helicopters involvedCredit: Valais cantonal police/EPA

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The rumbling avalanche by the Swiss Alpine ski resort of Zermatt on Easter Monday saw three people killed and another injured, police said.

It took place at about 2pm in an off-piste area of the Riffelberg, reportedly above the resort and below the famous Matterhorn.

“It looked to me as if there were several people on the slope at the time of the avalanche,” a horrified witness told local outlet Blick.

It is understood that a 15-year-old from the United States is among those dead, The Guardian reports.

A man and a woman were also killed, but police have not yet identified them.

Cops gave no further details but said they had no information on the woman’s identity.

A fourth person was found injured and taken to a local hospital following a frantic search for survivors involving four helicopters.

Two of the victims reportedly had an avalanche search device with them, according to Blick.

A spokesperson for police in the southern canton of Valais said it was unclear whether more people could still be missing, with police saying in a brief statement that search operations had been halted for Monday.

Access to the area, which had a lot of snow, was difficult, Valais police said.

Four skiers dead in avalanche on ‘Hell Valley’ mountains as cops launch probe
The avalanche took place by the Riffelberg, Switzerland, near the famous Matterhorn mountain (pictured)

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The avalanche took place by the Riffelberg, Switzerland, near the famous Matterhorn mountain (pictured)Credit: AP
Three people, including a US teen, were killed

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Three people, including a US teen, were killedCredit: YouTube Alexander Green

Some 45 rescuers took part in searches, including 15 firefighters, 13 rescue specialists, eight avalanche dog handlers and local ski instructors.

Anjan Truffer, head of rescue at Air Zermatt, said: “The search wasn’t that easy at the beginning.

“At the moment, thank God, we have no further signs of people who could be buried.”

“The slopes are 100 per cent secured. There is no safety risk for people who only spend time on the slopes,” Truffer added.

Bruno Jelk, former head of the Zermatt mountain rescue service and current head of Mattertal avalanche monitoring, said many people had come off-piste on a “very steep slope” where tracks could still be seen.

Valais, Switzerland, welcomes tourists from around the globe during its busy ski season.

But officials are now warning of the dangers of severe snowfall and “hurricane force” winds in the area.

On Monday, the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos declared the second highest danger level for parts of Graubünden and Valais, including Zermatt.

“Very large, and in some cases extremely large, spontaneous avalanches are to be expected,” the Institute said.

Rob Stewart, a representative for Ski Press who works at nearby resorts in the Swiss Alps, expressed sympathy for the victims.

He told MailOnline: “There has been significant amounts of new snow over the past week or so, combined with high winds in places. 

“This can make skiing off-piste more dangerous. Currently the avalanche rating in Zermatt is at level 4 (out of 5) which is ‘high risk’.

“It seems like two of the four victims of this avalanche in Zermatt were wearing avalanche transceivers, which means two were not. 

“Despite this, sadly they didn’t survive which means they possibly died of trauma injuries before they were found.”

It comes after four skiers were killed after getting caught in an avalanche in France in February.

Cops launched a criminal probe after a group of nine people were buried by a huge snowslide in an area known as Val d’Enfer – Hell Valley.

Three of the group were found hurt under 13ft of snow after activating their avalanche locator beacons.

But the remaining four were later found dead by rescue crews.

And last December, a British mum and her son died in a devastating avalanche while skiing off-piste with an instructor in the French Alps.

The tragedy struck at the St Gervais les Bains resort in Mont Blanc.

The avalanche swept through an off-piste area on the slopes of Mont Joly, at an altitude of 7,545 feet, the administration for the Haute-Savoie region said in a statement.

It involved a total of eight people – with five of them making a miraculous escape and one of them being injured.

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