A Phd student has been named as one of four climbers who died in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.

Christopher William Bell, 24, from Blackpool, Lancashire, died when his party was caught up in the avalanche near Glencoe on Saturday afternoon.

Another man and two women were found dead after a major search and rescue operation was launched on Bidean Nam Bian. One woman is in a critical condition in hospital in Glasgow and one man survived.

Mr Bell was studying for a Phd in Ocean Mapping in Oban, Northern Constabulary said.

The survivor is believed to have jumped clear of the collapsing snow and anchored an ice axe into firmer ground.

The man, who has asked for his name to be withheld, expressed his sadness and deep regret at the deaths in Glencoe.

He said: "Yesterday, five of my friends and I were descending a mountain in Glencoe in an area known as Church Door Buttress when the party was swept away by a snow avalanche. It is with much sadness and deep regret that some of my friends have died as a result.

"All in the group loved the mountains and are experienced winter walkers. Can I ask that the deceased families and I are allowed to grieve in privacy at this difficult time."

Northern Constabulary area commander Chief Inspector Derek Paterson said: "This is a tragic incident in which four people have sadly lost their lives, while another remains in critical condition in hospital. Our thoughts are with those affected and their families at this difficult time."

A 24-year-old woman from the Durham area is in a critical condition in hospital.