2 dead, couple missing as bad weather hits hills of Scotland

LONDON (AFP) - A climber and a hillwalker died on Wednesday (Feb 17), and two other people were missing as freezing weather, snow and strong winds hit Scotland, triggering avalanches and forcing rescuers to call off their search.

One man died when an avalanche hit Creag Meagaidh, a mountain south of Loch Ness in the Highlands, police said.

"Sadly, one man succumbed to his injuries and his climbing companion remains in hospital," police inspector Donald Campbell said in a statement.

Separately, a hillwalker died and two others were hospitalised after they were rescued on Wednesday, having gone missing during an expedition in hills further to the south the previous day.

Rescuers described struggling against "very challenging conditions", with winds blowing up to 140 kmh, in the search for a couple in their 20s who went missing on Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, at the weekend.

"Sadly conditions on Ben Nevis are preventing us from going out to look" for the pair, the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team said in a Facebook message late on Wednesday.

They posted a photograph of the couple's tent pitched in deep snow and appealed for information from anyone who had seen them.