TRIBUTES have been paid to two best friends who died after tumbling several hundred metres in a horror skiing crash.
Rajen Mahendra and Oscar Cassagneau-Francis, both 26, fell to their deaths after skiing off piste at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, in the French Alps, on Sunday.
They died after crashing on a 45-degree slope on a notorious stretch of the le Couloir du Chapeau in icy conditions.
Oscar's sibling Oliver, 29, called rescue services for help and their bodies had to be removed by a rescue helicopter, according to local reports.
Rajen and Oscar grew up as nextdoor neighbours in Cambridge, Cambs., and went to fee paying secondary school and studied Newcastle University together.
Tributes were last night paid to the best pals who were described as experienced skiers.
It is believed Oscar, a junior doctor, had previously worked as a ski instructor.
Rajen was an account director for a media firm in London.
A family friend said: "The family would like to be left alone at this point. They would like some privacy and do not want to be disturbed."
Tinashe Padiwa, 26, who went to school with Oscar, said: "He loves to ski, I would always see skiing pictures of him. He worked as a skiing instructor for many years.
"He was very sporty, like I said he loved to play football and we would meet up and play football together. I only just saw him last week with his brother at the gym. He was really nice guy."
Police have not been able to confirm if the friends were wearing helmets.
A spokesman for the PGHM, the high mountain police in Chamonix, said the conditions where the friends died were "not good".
A local source said: "Everyone is in complete and utter shock. This is such a tragic accident."
The friends were on holiday with tour company Inghams Ski.
A spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of our guests at this difficult time."
The Foreign Office said "We are in touch with the French authorities following the death of two British people in France and are providing support to their families."
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