Seven climbers - four Germans and three from Czech Republic - have been confirmed killed when an avalanche swept them away at the French Alps.

The avalanche struck around midday at the Snow Dome in the Alps' Massif des Ecrins, near the towns of Gap and Pelvoux. It is an easy-to-access 4,015 metre high mountain that is hugely popular with climbers, AFP reports.

The avalanche struck a sector of the mountain that is popular with amateur climbers as it does not require advanced technical skills.

Local official Pierre Besnard said search operations have now ended and the seven climbers bodies are being transported down. Rescuers, with the help of three helicopters and sniffer dogs were sent to the scene following the avalanche.

Prosecutor Raphael Balland, who confirmed the nationalities of the victims, said another German woman was injured and is being treated at the hospital.

According to the National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches, at least 39 people were killed in snow slides this year in France but yesterday's avalanche is the most serious and deadliest in the past decade, AFP says.

It quoted Christian Flagella, a member of the police force in the Hautes-Alpes region as saying that the avalanche occurred in "winter-like conditions", which caused a layer of snow to separate and hurtle down the hill.