A New Zealand woman who lived in London has been killed in an avalanche in the Italian Alps, along with three other skiers.

A British skier, 43, reported to be of Swiss origin, and a 36-year-old French skier were also killed and a fourth person is missing – described as a 38-year-old Pole who lives in Chamonix.

The British skier was Matt Ziegler, reported The Times, but the names of the other victims, including the Kiwi, have yet to be released.

"After days of snow fall this was a big avalanche and it caught all four of them in a narrow channel where they were skiing, so they stood no chance," said the head of the local apline rescue team, Paolo Comune.

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The skiers are thought to have been skiing off-piste when they were hit by an avalanche in a valley near the resort of Courmayeur.

Comune said that the off-piste slope, known as the Canale degli Spagnoli, had not been closed to skiers at the time of the avalanche, but said: "They were advised to avoid it."

The alarm was raised when they failed to return to their hotels on Sunday evening.

Italian alpine rescue workers found the bodies of the three skiers on Monday.

They are believed to have been engulfed by the avalanche and were reportedly buried under around six feet of snow.

Efforts to recover the bodies were hampered by extremely steep terrain and the risk of further avalanches.

It was a bad weekend for fatalities in the Alps, with at least eight people losing their lives, including the three struck by the avalanche near Courmayeur.

A snowboarder was killed in the northern Italian region of Lombardy and an 18-year-old skier was hit by another avalanche in the South Tyrol region near the border with Austria.

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An avalanche in France's Savoie region killed an off-piste skier on Saturday.

In Switzerland, an avalanche on Saturday swept away a man and a woman in the canton of Bern.

The man was killed and the woman is recovering in hospital.

In Austria, an avalanche hit two men aged 30 and 52, in Carinthia, killing the older man but leaving the other one unscathed.

This article originally appeared on the Daily Telegraph.