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Fourth avalanche victim was girlfriend of other dead climber

The fourth person killed in an avalanche in Glencoe has been named by police as the girlfriend of one of the other dead climbers.

Rachel Majumdar
Rachel Majumdar

Rachel Majumdar, 29, was a doctor working at Harrogate District Hospital in North Yorkshire.

She was originally from Merseyside and was most recently living in Leeds, Northern Constabulary said today.

The avalanche struck at about 2pm on Saturday as a group of six friends made their descent on Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe.

PhD students Christopher Bell, 24, and Tom Chesters, 28, and junior doctor Una Finnegan, 25, were also swept to their deaths as they made their way down the mountain.

A 24-year-old woman from the Durham area, who was seriously hurt in the incident, remains in a critical condition with severe head injuries at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital. She has not been named meantime.

One man, who has asked not to be named, survived by leaping from the collapsing sheet of snow and hammering an ice axe into firmer ground.

Police identified the three other victims yesterday but Dr Majumdar's name was withheld until today to allow her family members to inform other relatives.

Friends of the group said Mr Chesters and Dr Majumdar had been dating for several years and had "such a good future together".

Sam Morris, 35, said the only consolation in the tragedy was that the couple died side-by-side doing something they both loved.

Mr Morris, a close friend of Mr Chesters and Mr Bell, worked with both men when they were mountain bike tour guides in the Alps.

He said Mr Chesters and Dr Majumdar met at university in Leeds and he came to know her through Mr Chesters.

"They were in love since they met in their first year of university," he said.

"They were just so soft and sweet with each other - two people so at ease together. They were having fun making plans.

"They had dreams of doing voluntary work oversees together.

"Some of the comfort we have drawn is that these guys had been together to the end. At least they were doing what they liked doing.

Mr Morris said he met Dr Majumdar several times when she visited Mr Chesters in France.

He added: "All four of them were people with a bright future and all of them were committed to making a difference. It's such a loss."

A colleague of Dr Majumdar described her as one of the finest doctors she had worked with.

Rebecca Leigh, who works at Harrogate District Hospital, said: "Rachel was a gifted and dedicated doctor, who was in the middle of her training.

"A very promising medical career has been cut tragically short. She was one of the finest doctors I have ever worked with.

"All the staff and patients who knew Rachel will remember her for her caring nature, with a smile and a friendly word for everyone.

"The thoughts of everyone at the hospital are with her family and friends at this very difficult time and we are offering every support we can to our staff."

Tributes poured in today for the other victims. Mr Chesters had been living in Leeds and working towards his PhD qualification at Hull University, while Ms Finnegan, originally from Coleraine in Co Londonderry, was a qualified doctor who lived in Edinburgh.

Ms Finnegan studied medicine at Newcastle University and took her masters in anthropology of health and illness in Edinburgh.

A teacher from the school she attended said Ms Finnegan had a great zest for life and wanted to make a difference.

Nicola Madden, vice-principal of Dalriada School in Ballymoney, said: "She was bright, bubbly, talented, an amazing student and academically she was brilliant, one of the top students."

Ms Finnegan's father, Dr Owen Finnegan, was a respected consultant at the Causeway Hospital in Co Londonderry.

Independent councillor David McClarty said his thoughts were with the family. He added: "The family is a Christian one and hopefully they will get some comfort from the fact that she died doing something she enjoyed."

The University of Hull said Mr Chesters was working towards a PhD in medical engineering, with a special focus on researching osteoporosis, and had a promising career ahead of him.

The institution said it was "deeply saddened by this loss".

Michael Fagan, professor of medical and biological engineering, and Catherine Dobson, Mr Chesters' PhD supervisor, said in a joint statement: "Tom was a fantastic colleague and friend with so much energy and enthusiasm for everything he did. We will all miss him enormously."

Mr Morris, who used to work with Mr Bell and Mr Chesters as mountain bike guides in the French Alps, said they were both elite outdoor pursuits competitors and spent most of their free time on the mountains.

Speaking from France, he said: "It was so few years lived but I know there's not much either one of them would have done differently. They seized every opportunity."

Mr Morris said Mr Chesters was one of Britain's leading competitive orienteerers while Mr Bell competed in triathlons at an elite level and ranked highly in major national events.

Mr Bell was described as an "unassuming gentleman" who was one of Scotland's foremost amateur mountain bikers and competed at a top level in the nation's toughest off-road challenges.

Ben Thompson - a friend and team-mate of Mr Bell, who rode for the Highlands-based Nevis Cycles team - said: "He was certainly a competitive character but didn't have an aggressive character. He believed we were all in it together."

Friend Kevin Whitehead, who went on bike rides with Mr Bell, said: "He was a quiet, unassuming gentleman. He didn't brag about his achievements, even though they were pretty big ones."

Friends have said the group were experienced climbers who loved the mountains and were well-equipped for the trek.

Mr Bell, from Blackburn in Lancashire, was studying for a PhD in ocean mapping in Oban.

His parents were reported to be too upset to comment from their home in Osbaldeston, near Blackburn, but a tribute was issued on the Facebook page of his father's decking business, Evabel.

The statement read: "We are so sad to let everyone know that Simon & Alison's son Chris was one of the people who were killed in the avalanche in Glencoe.

"Chris was a wonderful son, friend and human being. Our thoughts and prayers are with Simon, Alison & (brother) Ed at this awful time."

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