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Alpine Glacier Chunk Detaches, Killing at Least 6 Hikers | World News

France d’Emilio, by the Associated Press

ROME (AP) – A large part of an alpine glacier collapsed Sunday afternoon and roared down a mountain in Italy, hitting hikers on a popular trail of ice, snow and rock peaks, killing at least six people and injuring eight, authorities said.

About 10 people may be missing, cited by civil protection officer Gianpaolo Bottassin in the Italian daily Correa by the online version of Della Serra. But Botasin later told state television that it was not yet possible to give a firm figure.

The Marmolada Range Glacier is the largest of the Dolomite Mountains in northeastern Italy and people ski there in the winter. But glaciers have been melting rapidly in recent years.

Experts at Italy’s state-run CNR Research Center, which has a polar science institute, say the glacier will no longer exist in the next 25-30 years and that much of its volume has already disappeared. Divided by the Mediterranean basin, southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, UN experts have identified it as a “hot spot of climate change”, among other consequences it could suffer from heat waves and water shortages.

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As of Sunday evening, officials were still working to determine how many hikers were in the area when the snow fell, Walter Milan said, a spokesman for the National Alpine Rescue Corps who provided the number of deaths and injuries.

Rescuers were checking license plates in the parking lot to determine how many people were missing as part of the check, a process that could take hours, Milan told the Associated Press by telephone.

“We saw huge bodies of dead (people) and ice, rocks,” tired-looking rescuer Luigi Felicetti told Italian state TV.

Milan said the nationalities or ages of the dead were not immediately available. Of the eight people admitted to the hospital, two are in critical condition, authorities said.

The local online media site said the fast-moving snow “came down with a roar that could be heard from far away.”

Earlier, the National Alpine and Cave Rescue Corps tweeted that at least five helicopters and rescue dogs were involved in the search for the area involved in the Marmolada summit.

Temporarily, the search for more victims or missing was halted while rescuers were assessing the risk of more parts of the glacier breaking, Walter Kennelly, after conducting a rescue operation with a search dog, told state television.

Rescuers said the icebergs were constantly rolling. Light rain started after evening.

The SUEM dispatch service, located in the nearby Veneto area, said 18 people who were on top of the ice site would be evacuated by the Alpine Rescue Corps.

But Milan said some of those on the slope could get off on their own, including using the pick-up cable car.

The SUEM said the snowfall consisted of “snow, ice and hail.” The isolated part is called serak or ice peak.

Marmolada, about 3,300 meters (about 11,000 feet) high, is the highest peak of the Eastern Dolomites, which offers spectacular views of other alpine peaks.

The Alpine Rescue Service said in a tweet that the section was broken near Punta Roca (Rock Point), “with the trail usually used to reach the summit.”

It was not immediately clear what caused the iceberg to break down. But intense heatwaves in Italy since late June could be a factor.

Maurizio Fugatti, president of the province of Trento, bordering Marmolada, told Sky TG24 News that “partial avalanche damage was” clearly affected by today’s temperature. “

But Milan insisted that high temperatures, which have risen abnormally above 10 centigrade (50 Fahrenheit) at the summit of Marmoladar in recent days, were the only possible cause of Sunday’s tragedy.

“There could be a lot of reasons involved,” Milan said. Snowfall in general is unpredictable, he said, and the effect of heat on glaciers is “more impossible to predict.”

In a separate comment on Italian state television, Milan called the recent temperature “extreme heat” for the peak. “Obviously it’s something unusual.”

According to the rescue service, the injured were taken to several hospitals in the Trentino-Alto Adidas and Veneto regions.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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