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Richard Branson ‘seconds from certain death’ in rock fall drama

Lucky
escape: Sir
Richard
during climb
in French
Alps PICTURE: PA

SIR RICHARD BRANSON and his son Sam were perilously close to being crushed to death by boulders as they climbed Mont Blanc.

The billionaire said the pair dodged rocks ‘the size of small cars’ on a charity trek in the French Alps.

The team were picked up by helicopter at the summit after agreeing the journey back was too perilous.

‘God forbid, three seconds earlier and we would all certainly have been killed,’ said Branson, 68.

‘There’s definitely a friendly star above our family and it keeps a watchful eye over us.’

He added: ‘I have never come so terrifyingly close to losing my son and other team mates. A side of a cliff broke away from the mountain. Seconds later boulders the size of small cars were bouncing towards us. Rocks rained down on us from every angle. I am not exaggerating when I say four of our team were seconds away from certain death.’

He was with Sam, 33, and nephew Noah Devereux when he reached the summit on Saturday, after completing the 33-day Virgin Strive Challenge — a 1,200 mile trek. A team of 13 hiked, climbed, cycled and used sea kayaks to journey from Sardinia to the top of Mont Blanc — raising money for charity Big Change to help disadvantaged youngsters.

Challenge: Sir Richard and his team on their way to Mont Blanc’s summit

Sam captured the moment rocks fell, as the team passed through ‘The Gully of Death’, on camera.

‘We were hiding in fear,’ he said.

Noah, who watched events unfold, thought Sam and Sir Richard had been killed. He said: ‘The noise and size of the rocks was terrifying. Then I saw Sam and Richard’s head appear above the crest of a ridge. That’s probably the greatest sense of relief I’ve experienced.’

Sir Richard has had brushes with death in the past. His home on Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands, was gutted by the fire during Tropical Storm Irene, in August 2011.

In September last year, he sheltered in the wine cellar with his family as Hurricane Irma hit.