The disaster-stricken Mont Blanc climbers were warned about the avalanche which killed nine people including three Britons, officials in the French Alps say.

Heavy snowfall and gusty winds were already present around Mont Blanc before the expedition, prompting the authorities to alert the climbers to the peril that lay ahead, according to a report by Euronews.

The avalanche struck Col du Maudit, the third-highest mountain in the Mont Blanc range, at around 05:30 local time on Thursday. A group of 28 climbers, drawn from across Europe and the United States, were making a dawn ascent when the snowfall began.

Nine climbers have so far been confirmed dead - three Britons, three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss. A further 11 climbers are reported to have been injured.

Despite the claims by French officials that they warned the climbers of the potential avalanche, those involved in the expedition said that the disaster was a case of extreme misfortune.

"In the front there were really experienced mountain guides. It was a really tragic accident. I think those people, they were at the wrong place at the wrong time," said mountain guide Klemen Gričar, according to the Euronews report.

Meanwhile the mountaineering community has united in paying tribute to the victims, whose number includes Roger Payne, general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) from 1995 to 2001, and an experienced mountain guide.

"The mountaineering world is shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Roger Payne, former BMC General Secretary and former president of the British Mountain Guides. Roger was one of the UK's most enthusiastic and respected climbers with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s. Our thoughts are with Roger's friends and family - in particular his wife Julie-Ann," said BMC Chief Executive Dave Turnbull.