Seven-year-old British boy killed when he falls off cliff in French Alps while skiing

GRENOBLE, France (AFP) - A seven-year-old British boy who died when he fell off a steep 98 metre cliff after straying off piste in the French Alps had been skiing with his family, and not on his own as previously thought.

The family were making their last descent of the mountain late Friday when the mother stopped to stop to help the boy's sister who had fallen, Michel Ollagnon, police commander for the southeastern town of Bonneville, said.

The British press on Sunday named the boy as Carwyn Scott-Howell from Wales who had been on holiday with his family in the resort of Flaine in France's Haute Savoie region.

He had wandered off from the side of his mother, sister and brother, who quickly lost sight of him.

He "took off his skis and continued on foot. He must have panicked and did not see the cliff" where the boy's skis were found, added Ollagnon.

The mother later raised the alarm but rescuers only found the child's skis. A helicopter subsequently spotted his body at the bottom of the cliff.

"He died instantly. He had probably been dead for two hours before we found him," the local fire department said.

"It's a dreadful accident that could happen to many people," said Agnes Robine, the deputy prosecutor of Bonneville, southeastern France.

Local authorities have opened an investigation into the accident.

Britain's daily mail reports that investigators do not know why the boy was at the top of a steep 98 metre-high cliff, which overshadows the Lac de Flaine.

One theory is that he wandered away from a blue run to try to find his family, the Mail said. Another is that the youngster may have fallen off one of the ski resort's lifts.

Searchers discovered his tiny tracks in the snow leading through woodland up to the top of the cliff, the paper said online. There they found his skis.

Rescuers in a helicopter spotted his body and recovered his body at around in the early evening from the bottom of the cliff.

The area was described as a 'dangerous, out-of-bounds area' by emergency services, the Daily Mail said, noting that rescuers had to be winched down from a helicopter to retrieve the body.

It said that Carwyn's mother Ceri and father Rhys run Coity Bach Farm in the Brecon Beacons, near Talybont-on-Usk, known for its award-winning sausages.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was once pictured buying scotch eggs from the couple's stand at an agricultural show in Wales in July 2014, the Daily Mail said.