RAF leader among avalanche victims

One of three people killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands was an RAF squadron leader, Northern Constabulary has said.

Rimon Than, 33, who was based at RAF Valley, North Wales, was killed in the incident in the Cairngorms.

The three were airlifted from the Chalamain Gap area to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary shortly after 12.30pm on Thursday.

The avalanche struck as two groups of six climbers made their way up opposite sides of a gorge. One group was part of a Glenmore Lodge organised winter skills training course and the second was off-duty RAF personnel.

The MoD earlier confirmed that two of those who died were serving in the RAF. Inspector Murdoch MacLeod said: "Clearly, this is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are currently with the families of those who have lost their lives.

"It is important that we pay tribute to the work of the rescuers who responded extremely quickly to the incident and located all three climbers in a short space of time. All three were airlifted to Aberdeen but sadly they died as a result of their injuries."

Of the three caught in the avalanche, a man and a woman died on Thursday night and another man died in the early hours of Friday morning, Northern Constabulary said.

Tributes were paid to Sqn Ldr Than, who was born in Burma and had initially joined the Royal Air Force as a medical cadet in 2001. Group Captain Adrian Hill, his station commander at Royal Air Force Valley, said: "Sqn Ldr Rimon Than was the senior medical officer at RAF Valley and was a fine, dedicated officer and doctor.

"He was passionate about mountaineering and his death is a tragedy. He was well respected and popular, and will be sorely missed by all personnel at RAF Valley. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

Wing Commander Ian Richardson, the chairman of the RAF Mountaineering Association, described him as a "unique and talented individual", adding he was a "fine doctor and a passionate mountaineer".

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