GENEVA, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Despite avalanches that claimed at least two lives in the Alps in recent days, the number of deaths in the Swiss mountains continued a downward trend last year, falling by 8 percent, the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) said Monday.
The SAC attributed this in a yearly report to less snowy winter conditions and rather changeable weather through the rest of 2017.
Police in the canton of Valais had said earlier that a second body was found on Saturday afternoon, following a first victim that was found earlier in an avalanche that swept four people away on Friday.
The two were identified as French from the Alsace region, aged between 20 and 25. Their bodies were found under 6 meters of snow.
The avalanche occurred in the Vallon d'Arbi region near to Riddes in canton Valais near the popular Verbiers ski resort in the French-speaking part of southwest Switzerland.
A Valais cantonal police spokesperson had said on Saturday that after so many hours buried under snow, it was unlikely that anyone would be found alive, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.
Meanwhile, the overall number of deaths in 2017 in the Swiss mountains, resulting from (among others) climbing and hiking accidents, illnesses contracted on the slopes, skiing and mountain-biking accidents, was 154 in 2017, said the SAC in its report.
This is down from 179 the year before, and 213 in 2015, said the SAC on Monday.
Considering only the "classic" activities of hiking and climbing, the death toll was 103, also down (by 8 percent) on the previous year.
Ski touring, rock climbing and avalanche-related deaths all decreased; though more hikers (54 compared with 43) lost their lives.
Foreigners made up a sizeable proportion of the 103, said the SAC, with some 43 of the fatalities coming from abroad, while the rest were Swiss citizens.
Most of the foreigners were from neighboring Germany and Italy.
Overall, a total of 2,712 distressed people had to be rescued in the Alps and the Jura mountains through the year, a 4 percent drop on the previous year.
The SAC speculated that the reason for the decline was, firstly, the lack of snow in the mountains between January and April 2017 and, secondly, changeable summer conditions that may have deterred adventurers.