At Least 14 Hikers Still Missing as Death Toll Mounts Following Glacier Collapse in Italy

At Least 14 Hikers Still Missing as Death Toll Mounts Following Glacier Collapse in Italy
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Rescuers warned Monday that hope of finding survivors was dimming after an avalanche triggered by the collapse of an Italian glacier during a heat wave killed at least seven people.

Authorities said they did not know how many climbers were hit when the glacier gave way on Sunday at Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomites. Its collapse caused ice and rocks to tumble down the slope at 300 kilometers per hour, according to Trento province chief Maurizio Fugatti.

On Monday, rescuers armed with thermal drones searched for body heat from possible survivors trapped in the ice. But the chances of finding additional survivors now “are slim to none” because it has probably been too long since the deadly avalanche occurred, Alpine Rescue Service regional chief Giorgio Gajer told the AGI news agency in comments.

Rescuer Gino Comelli, who spoke to the outlet after six bodies were recovered from the mountain, said those found were “torn apart” as a result of the tragedy.

The death toll rose as search and rescue missions progressed in Marmolada on Monday. fugatti confirmed seven deaths in the late afternoon, according to AGI, while eight people were injured and at least 14 others were still missing. Two of the injured hikers were reportedly found in critical condition and only three of the deceased could be immediately identified. It was not yet clear exactly how many people were trapped in the avalanche, as missing persons reports It kept coming throughout the day.

The disaster occurred a day after a record temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded at the top of the glacier, which is the largest in the Italian Alps.

The glacier had been weakened by decades of global warming, experts said.

Alpine Rescue spokeswoman Michela Canova told AFP that an “avalanche of snow, ice and rocks” hit an access road at a time when there were several groups of ropes, “some of which were washed away”.

Marbled.  Arabba.  Veneto.  Italy
Marble from Italy.

Giovanni Mereghetti/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Assman, from Trento province, said missing persons were still being reported.

Trento’s chief prosecutor, Sandro Raimondi, was quoted by Corriere della Sera as saying he feared the death toll “could double, if not triple,” based on the number of cars left unattended in a parking lot near the mountain.

But Canova urged caution, saying the full number of climbers involved is “not yet known.” At the time, eight people were reported to have been recovered from injuries.

The bodies extracted from the ice and rock were taken to the town of Canazei, where Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi traveled to talk about Monday’s avalanche. Helicopters and sniffer dogs were called off as night fell amid fears the glacier might still be unstable.

“It’s difficult for rescuers in a dangerous situation,” Canazei mayor Giovanni Bernard told AFP.

Footage of the avalanche filmed from a nearby shelter shows snow and rocks falling down the mountainside.

“It is a miracle that we are alive,” Stefano Dal Moro, an engineer who was hiking with his Israeli partner, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “There was a dull thud, then that sea of ​​ice fell. There’s no use running, you can only pray it doesn’t come to you. We crouched down and hugged each other tightly as the ice passed.”

Massimo Frezzotti, a science professor at Roma Tre University, told AFP the collapse was caused by unusually hot weather linked to global warming, with a 40-50% drop in rainfall during a dry winter.

“Current glacier conditions correspond to mid-August, not early July,” he said.

Glacier specialist Renato Colucci told AGI that the phenomenon “was bound to repeat itself” because “for weeks the temperatures in the height of the Alps have been well above normal values.”

Recent warm temperatures produced a large amount of melted glacier water that pooled at the bottom of the ice pack and caused it to collapse, he added.

The Trento prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation to determine the causes of the tragedy.

The IPCC has said that glaciers in Scandinavia, central Europe and the Caucasus could lose 60-80% of their mass by the end of the century.

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