The bodies of three alpinists buried in an avalanche of ice and snow on the Mont Blanc massif have been found and dug out from the thick ice.

The mountain rescue team chief in the French town of Chamonix says Thursday that two women, a Slovakian and a Polish-British, and their German guide were climbing Mont Blanc's Mont Maudit at 4,100 meters (13,450 feet) when a tower of ice swept over them early Tuesday and they fell 150 meters (500 feet) to their deaths.

Lieut. Col. Stephane Bozon says the women's bodies were found Wednesday evening and the guide's early Thursday. Rescue workers had to use chain saws and a backhoe to free them from the ice.

He said the rescue effort was delayed because other climbers said there were no victims.