An avalanche has struck a school group in the French Alps, and a mountain rescue squad has launched a search and rescue operation.

France's National Gendarmerie says the search and rescue operation was launched in the Deux Alpes region after the avalanche Wednesday afternoon.

Citing local police, the regional Dauphine Libere newspaper is reporting that four of the students were found in cardiac arrest and the teacher was unconscious. Venosc Mayor Pierre Balme told the paper the avalanche occurred on a closed ski run.