Rescuers on Monday used thermal drones to search for possible survivors trapped under ice after an avalanche triggered by the collapse of the largest glacier in the Italian Alps, which killed at least six people and injured eight others.
Authorities said they did not know how many climbers were affected when the glacier collapsed on Sunday on Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomites.
“We found bodies ripped apart, in a shapeless stream of ice and debris that stretched for 1,000 meters (3,280 feet),” Gino Comelli of the Alpine Rescue Service told the Corriere della Sera daily Monday.
The disaster struck a day after a record high temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded on top of the glacier.
Emergency services spokeswoman Michela Canova told AFP that an “avalanche of snow, ice and rocks” hit an access path at a time when several groups were roped, “some of which were swept away”.
The total number of climbers involved was “not yet known,” she said.
Helicopters and sniffer dogs were called off as night fell and fears that the glacier might still be unstable.
But rescuers used drones equipped with thermal cameras to continue the search overnight and early Monday, Canazei mayor Giovanni Bernard told AFP.
“It is difficult for the rescuers in a dangerous situation,” he said.
Footage of the avalanche, filmed from a nearby shelter, shows snow and rocks rushing down the mountainsides.
“It’s a miracle that we’re still alive,” Stefano Dal Moro, an engineer who was hiking with his Israeli partner, told Corriere della Sera.
“There was a dull noise, then that sea of ice came down. There’s no point in running, you can only pray it doesn’t come your way.
“We crouched down and hugged tightly as the ice passed.”
Bodies dug out of the ice and rocks were taken to Canazei village.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi was due to visit Canazei later Monday.
Massimo Frezzotti, a science professor at Roma Tre University, told AFP that the collapse was caused by unusual warm weather linked to global warmingwith a 40 to 50 percent drop in precipitation during a dry winter.
“The glacier’s current conditions correspond to mid-August, not early July,” he said.
The Trento prosecutorThe office has launched an investigation to determine the causes of the tragedy.
© 2022 AFP
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