A junior doctor from Northern Ireland and two Phd students were among four people killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands, police said.

According to Sky News, Una Finnegan, 25, from Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, who had been working in Edinburgh as a junior doctor, Christopher William Bell, 24, from Blackpool, Lancashire, who was studying for a Phd in ocean mapping in Oban and Tom Chesters, 28, who was living in Leeds, a Phd student at Hull University, were killed while walking near Glencoe on Saturday, Northern Constabulary confirmed.

A 24-year-old woman from the Durham area remains in critical condition in hospital, Sky News reports.

A second woman was also killed in the accident, although her next of kin have asked for her name to be withheld until her extended family have been informed.

Another man survived the avalanche, but has asked for his name to be withheld.

The party of six were walking on the Bidean Nam Bian mountain when they were swept 1,000ft to their deaths on Saturday afternoon.

Five people in total were engulfed in a wall of ice and snow and sent hundreds of feet down the mountain.

A major search operation involving mountain rescue teams and police dogs was launched and the four bodies were found under the snow.

The Newsletter reports that Nicola Madden, vice-principal of Dalriada School in Ballymoney, said the precocious former pupil, Una Finnegan, would be badly missed.

“She was bright, bubbly, talented, an amazing student, and academically she was brilliant, one of the top students,” she said.

Ms Finnegan, who secured nine A*s and one A in her GCSEs in 2004, was involved in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme (hillwalking for young people) at the school, along with her twin sister, and that led to a love of the mountains and outdoors, Ms Madden added.

She was inspired to become a doctor after attending a humanitarian mission to Moldova in eastern Europe and meeting medics there, the senior teacher said.

The alarm was initially raised by two other climbers not in the stricken party after they found one of the victims lying in the snow.

The sole male survivor then contacted police to say more people were missing.

Rev Moira Herkes told the congregation: "We include in our prayers thoughts for the deceased in yesterday's tragic accident on the mountain and their families.

"Somehow life must continue. We accept the challenges of nature as part of our living."
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is an appalling tragedy and our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been lost.

"To lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating."

According to the Newsletter, Ms Finnegan’s father Dr Owen Finnegan was a well-respected heart and chest consultant at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine. Following in her father’s footsteps she studied medicine at Newcastle University and took her masters in anthropology of health and illness in Edinburgh, where she continued to live.

Ms Finnegan won a shield for debating at school and was deeply interested in politics, with a Rotary Club award taking her to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ms Madden added.

Independent Stormont MLA for the Coleraine area David McClarty, who knows the victim’s father, said: “This is just such a tragedy to be visited upon this family.”

Una Finnegan, from Antrim, died during an avalanche in the Scottish HighlandsGoogle Images