Two climbers,

a French and a Spanish, died and nine were injured

this Friday by the detachment of a large block of ice in southwestern Switzerland, police said.

A group of 17 climbers were at an altitude of 3,400 meters in the sector known as the "Lunch Plateau" when they were ascending the Grand Combin, when they were

surprised by the collapse of the block

.

"Two people died at the scene of the accident. It is a 40-year-old French citizen residing in France and

a 65-year-old Spaniard residing in Spain

," the police said.

Authorities said nine climbers were airlifted to two Swiss hospitals and

two of them are seriously injured

.

Seven helicopters and some 40 rescuers

intervened in the relief operation

.

Police reiterated a call for extreme precautions.

The

Grand Combin

is a massif whose highest peak reaches 4,314 meters.

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