THE father of one of the four young climbers killed in Glen Coe has spoken of the "tragic loss to society" caused by the accident.

John Chesters, whose son Tom, 28, died in an avalanche on Bidean nam Bian on January 19, said: "Tom meant everything and we miss him. The deaths of all of them are a great shock and a tragic loss to society."

His son, who was studying for a PhD in osteoporosis, died with his girlfriend, junior doctor Rachel Majumdar, 29, Chris Bell, 24, another PhD student, and Una Finnegan, 25, a medical graduate. A third woman remains critically ill in hospital, while another man managed to escape the avalanche by leaping clear.

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Mr Chesters, 61, of Devon, said: "Rachel had just qualified as a junior doctor, Tom was studying for his PhD, so they both had a long future of helping others in society ahead of them. It just seems such a waste for two young people – and the other two of course – to have so much to offer and for that to be swept away, literally."

Nine people in total have died in 2013. RAF personnel Flight Liuetenant Fran Capps, 32, and Squadron leader Rimon Than, 32, were caught in an avalanche in the Cairngorms. The third victim has yet to be named. In a separate incident hiker Graham Connell, 31, taking part in a hillwalking expedition from Leeds University, was killed.