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Two dead after Highland avalanche
Two people have died following an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands, police said.
Northern Constabulary said a man and a woman who were airlifted from the Chalamain Gap area of the Cairngorms to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary earlier have since died. Another man, who was flown to the same hospital, remained in a critical condition.
A rescue operation was launched shortly after 12.30pm involving police, Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, search and rescue dogs, RAF Lossiemouth's mountain rescue team and a helicopter.
One man was initially rescued and airlifted to Aberdeen, and shortly afterwards a further two people were found and taken to hospital.
Police said the rescue operation has been stood down. A spokesman said: "Police can confirm that two people involved in the earlier avalanche at Cairngorm have sadly died. A man and a woman who were airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary earlier have been pronounced dead and a third person, male, is in a critical condition."
No further information will be given about those involved until their families have been informed, he said.
The avalanche is the latest in a series of incidents in the Scottish mountains in recent weeks. Earlier this week, a hillwalker died during an expedition with a mountaineering club in the Cairngorms.
Graham Connell, 31, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, was found dead in the Jacob's Ladder area on Monday, following a large-scale search for him and five other people who were reported overdue on Sunday afternoon.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: "My thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of those who have sadly been killed in this tragic accident, as well as those who are still being cared for in hospital. I'd also like to thank all those involved in the rescue effort and the medical staff who are treating the injured.
"This is another stark and tragic reminder of the dangers on our mountains. They are one of the most beautiful places on Earth but they can also be inherently dangerous with treacherous and changeable conditions."