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Two UK avalanche victims named
Two more Britons killed in a major avalanche in the French Alps have been named by the Foreign Office as Steve Barber and John Taylor.
One of the UK's most respected climbers, Roger Payne, was also among the nine people who lost their lives after being hit by a massive wall of snow on Thursday as they traversed Mont Maudit - translated as Cursed Mountain - in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix.
Mr Taylor and Mr Barber were from the village of Upper Poppleton, York, said a local councillor.
Leader of the City of York Council's Conservative group, councillor Ian Gillies, who represents Upper Poppleton, added: "Devastated doesn't cover it, really. I'm sure the people in the village and the wider community will provide the support the families need, not only now but for weeks to come."
Estelle O'Hara, headteacher of Poppleton Ousebank School, said in a letter to parents at the school: "It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that two of the climbers killed in yesterday's avalanche in the French Alps were parents from Poppleton Ousebank - Steve Barber, father of Frankie in Year 5 and John Taylor, father of Emma in Year 5 and Louise in Year 3. Our thoughts and prayers go out to both Donna Rogers and Karine Taylor who have both lost their life-long partners."
The mountaineering world has paid tribute to Mr Payne, a mountain guide and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), who was originally from Hammersmith in west London, but is understood to have been living in Leysin, Switzerland, with New Zealand-born wife Julie-Ann Clyma, who is also an experienced mountaineer.
Dave Turnbull, the current chief executive of the BMC, said he was "shocked and saddened" by the tragic death of the avalanche instructor: "Roger was one of the UK's most enthusiastic and respected climbers, with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s."
British mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington also paid tribute, saying the climber, who had taken part in more than 20 expeditions to the world's highest and most challenging peaks, was "a very special person."
Two other Britons - including climber Dave Compton - reported missing following the avalanche were confirmed safe and well after presenting themselves to police in Chamonix yesterday evening. All those believed to have been missing have been accounted for, but police are continuing to search the area.
As well as the three British climbers, the avalanche claimed the lives of two Spaniards, three Germans and one Swiss, according to the Prefecture de la Haute-Savoie. They all were part of a 28-strong group which left a climbing hut to attempt the route, described by local guides the second most popular to the top of Mont Blanc. The group included independent climbers and others supervised by professional mountaineering guides.