Avalanche claims ‘no victims’ in French Alps ski resort

This file handout photo taken and realeased on February 13, 2017 and made available by Radio Val d'Isere in Tignes, in the French Alps shows an avalanche site in an off-piste area after an avalanche engulfed nine people, killing at least four. An avalanche on Tuesday morning crossed a slope of the Tignes station, and several people are feared burried, the French gendarmerie announced. (AFP / RADIO VAL D'ISERE)
Updated 07 March 2017

Avalanche claims ‘no victims’ in French Alps ski resort

TIGNES, France: An avalanche hit a ski slope in the popular French Alps resort of Tignes on Tuesday but no one was hurt, the resort said.
Police had told AFP earlier Tuesday that the avalanche, which hit at about 10 a.m. (0900 GMT), had engulfed “many” skiers.
Searches later found that no one had been hurt.
“Several skiers were affected who were cared for by resort staff,” the resort said in a statement.
“Rescue workers were immediately deployed. After search operations, no victims were found,” it said.
The slope is close to where an avalanche last month killed four people who were exploring in an off-piste area.
Rescue workers and sniffer dogs were sent to the scene but helicopters could not be scrambled because of poor visibility.
TV pictures showed firefighters’ vehicles and ambulances at the scene.
Tuesday’s avalanche risk — which is normally assessed only for off-piste and closed slopes — was at four on a scale of five.
At level five, all slopes are closed.
The avalanche on February 13, which hit during school holidays, was a “slab” avalanche, caused when dense wind-packed snow breaks off from a slope.
Rescuers quickly retrieved the bodies because the victims were carrying transmitters designed to assist in locating them.
They had been only a few dozen meters from a ski lift when the 400-meter-wide avalanche ripped down the mountain.
That incident brought to 14 the number of accidents recorded in the French Alps and Pyrenees so far this winter, claiming a total of seven lives.
Last winter there were 45 accidents and 21 fatalities.
One of the worst avalanches in the Alps in the past decade took place in the summer of 2012 in the Mont-Blanc range. Nine climbers from Britain, Germany, Spain and Switzerland were killed as they tried to scale the north face of Mont Maudit, which translates as Cursed Mountain.
Avalanches can travel at speeds of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour.
In January, 29 people died in Italy after an avalanche buried a hotel in the central town of Rigopiano.
The force of that impact was calculated by police as being equivalent to the three-story stone and wood structure being hit by 4,000 fully loaded trucks.
Most avalanches are the result of a combination of weather and geological factors. In general, an avalanche results from fresh heavy snowfall that fails to stick to snow already on the ground.


China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment

Updated 17 February 2020

China asks recovered patients to donate plasma for virus treatment

  • Drugmakers are racing to develop a vaccine and treatment for the epidemic

BEJING: Chinese health officials Monday urged patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood so that plasma can be extracted to treat others who are critically ill.
Drugmakers are racing to develop a vaccine and treatment for the epidemic, which has which killed 1,770 people and infected over 70,500 people across China.
Plasma from patients who have recovered from a spell of pneumonia triggered by COVID-19 contains antibodies that can help reduce the virus load in critically ill patients, an official from China’s National Health Commission told a press briefing Monday.
“I would like to make a call to all cured patients to donate their plasma so that they can bring hope to critically ill patients,” said Guo Yanhong, who heads the NHC’s medical administration department.
Eleven patients at a hospital in Wuhan — the epicenter of the disease — received plasma infusions last week, said Sun Yanrong, of the Biological Center at the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“One patient (among them) has already been discharged, one is able to get off the bed and walk and the others are all recovering,” she said.
The call comes days after China’s state-owned medical products maker reported successful results from its trial at Wuhan First People’s Hospital.
China National Biotec Group Co. said in a post on its official WeChat account that severely ill patients receiving plasma infusions “improved within 24 hours.”
“Clinical studies have shown that infusing plasma (from recovered patients) is safe and effective,” Sun said.
Blood doners will undergo a test to ensure that they are not carrying the virus, said Wang Guiqiang, chief physician at Peking University First Hospital.
“Only plasma is taken, not all the blood,” he said.
“Other components of the blood including red blood cells and platelets will be infused back into the donors.”