Three British climbers have been killed in an avalanche near Chamonix.

A total of nine people were killed in the avalanche on the Mont Maudit slopes. The others are reported to be from Spain, Germany and Switzerland.

One of the Brits killed was one of the most respected climbers in the UK.

The British Mountaineering Council said climbers were “shocked and saddened” to hear that its former general secretary, Roger Payne, was among those who died.

Foreign Secretary William Hague called their deaths a “terrible tragedy”.

The three Britons’ next of kin have been informed.

They were part of a 28-person group attempting to reach the summit of Mont Blanc by traversing the slopes of Mont Maudit, where the avalanche struck.