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Mountain, snow and water sports claim most victims

The suspension bridge over the Sementina Valley in canton Ticino. On average, 83 people die a year in the Swiss mountains, in particular while hiking and climbing Keystone

Over the past 15 years 2,718 people have died in Switzerland while doing sport, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention. The annual average was 181, including 59 foreign tourists. 

This content was published on September 1, 2015 - 13:42
swissinfo.ch and agencies, swissinfo.ch and agencies

The numbers for 2000-2014 showed that sport practised in the mountains was the most dangerous. On average, 83 people die a year in the Swiss mountains, in particular while hiking and climbing. This was followed by snow sports, which claimed an average of 39 victims annually. Most of these died while ski-touring or free-riding. 

On average, 36 people drowned a year while doing sport in or on the water. Most of them submerged suddenly and for no apparent reason. The second-highest cause was a sudden fall into the water. 

Several rules should be followed to prevent disaster, the council said. For mountain sports this includes careful planning, correct assessment of one’s strength, appropriate equipment and regular monitoring of the situation. 

Snow sports enthusiasts who leave marked trails should be informed about avalanche safety or should be accompanied by trained guides and should possess emergency equipment. 

Those taking part in water sports should keep a close eye on children, with small children no more than three steps away. 

Even knowledge and good preparation can’t prevent all accidents, however. On Monday, a 53-year-old Austrian mountain guide who was accompanying a client in a climb of the Schreckhorn in the Bernese Alps fell around 80 metres during the descent and died at the scene. 

In the past week alone eight people have died in the Swiss mountains. 

By comparison, last year 243 people died as the result of accidents on Swiss roads, according to the Federal Roads Office.

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