updated 3/3/2009 9:45:34 PM ET 2009-03-04T02:45:34

An Alpine rescue in the Swiss Alps that played out over the blogging Web site Twitter ended in tragedy when a snowboarder was found dead, British media and Swiss authorities said Tuesday.

Police in the Swiss canton of Valais said a 29-year-old fell off a cliff in foul weather Monday evening near Verbier, a ski resort near the French border popular with British tourists. British media identified him as Rob Williams, an entrepreneur.

Another snowboarder, identified as Jason Tavaria, also 29, was found unscathed nearby, police said.

Williams had been on a trip with a group of fellow Internet entrepreneurs when he and Tavaria were separated from the group during a snow storm, according to the TechCrunch UK, a technology blog.

Users swapped 'tweets'
The pair's disappearance sparked a frenzy of back-and-forth messages over the microblogging Web site Twitter, in which users swap "tweets" — 140-character-long updates, questions and answers.

Friends and colleagues across the world anxiously exchanged news and appealed for information.

One member of the expedition, identified as Michelle Dewberry, said that "2 of our ski party been missing since 4pm. Conditions terrible."

"1 guy found but trapped. 20 man team searching for other," she added.

Another reported member of the group, Alex Hoye, went to Twitter to try to locate Williams' number. His call for help was picked up and rebroadcast across the Web site — a process known as "retweeting" — and another user eventually supplied the information.

"Rob's number rec'd via Twitter," Hoye was quoted as saying by the Web site. "Jason now found using GPS / Google maps & phone ... still working on finding Rob."

Rescuers, not Twitter, located men
Neither he nor Dewberry immediately replied to "tweets" seeking comment.

Although Hoye's message and media reports seemed to credit Twitter with leading rescuers to the pair, police said the Web played no role in the search.

"It wasn't the friends, but the rescue column that found them," said Markus Rieder, a spokesman for the Valais police.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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