4 climbers die in Swiss Alps during snowstorm

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BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on weather in Europe (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

Police in southwestern Switzerland say four Alpine climbers have died and another five others were in critical condition after becoming trapped overnight by an unexpected snowstorm and high winds.

Authorities in the Valais canton deployed seven helicopters as part of efforts early Monday to rescue a total of 14 hikers from France, Germany and Italy in the Pigne d'Arolla region.

Valais police spokesman Markus Rieder said they were caught off-guard by high winds, snows and cold and were forced to spend the night outdoors.

Several of those rescued were suffering from hypothermia, and were rushed to area hospitals. Police said three people died in hospital, and another apparently was killed in a fall.

Police said the hikers had been trying to reach the Vignettes hikers' hut at 3,157 meters (10,357 feet) in the Alps.


3:50 p.m.

Snow is falling on Normandy, as a blast of cold weather hit France and jolted it out of a surprise heat spell.

Shorts one week, snow boots the next — that's the kind of extreme weather France is having this spring. After an exceptionally frozen March, France had one of its hottest Aprils on record, according to national weather authorities.

That is, until Monday, when temperatures plunged toward freezing across parts of northern France. Snow hit low-lying areas around the Normandy city of Rouen, and floods and fierce winds threatened regions in the north and on the Atlantic Coast.

Temperatures are forecast to rise slightly for nationwide May Day marches Tuesday — though chances of rain loom over several areas.