‘Slim’ chance of finding survivors after Italy glacier collapse

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Rescuers warned Monday that hope of finding survivors was diminishing after an avalanche set off by the collapse of an Italian glacier during a heat wave killed at least six people. Authorities said they did not know how many climbers were hit when the glacier gave way Sunday on Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomites.

Ice and rock thundered down the slope at 300 kilometres an hour (185 miles per hour), according to Trento province chief Maurizio Fugatti. On Monday, rescuers armed with thermal drones searched for body heat from potential survivors trapped in ice, though hope was rapidly dwindling.

Chances of finding survivors “are slim to nothing”, the region’s Alpine Rescue Service head Giorgio Gajer told AGI news agency. The six bodies recovered so far were found “torn apart,” rescuer Gino Comelli said.

The disaster struck one day after a record-high temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded at the summit of the glacier, 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 an “avalanche of snow, ice and rock” hit an access path at a time when there were several roped parties, “some of whom were swept away”. A spokesman for the Trento province said people were still being reported missing. Trento’s chief prosecutor Sandro Raimondi was cited by Corriere della Sera as saying he feared the number of dead “could double if not triple”, based on the number of cars in the carpark. But Canova urged caution, saying the total number of climbers involved was “not yet known”. Eight people were recovered with injuries. Bodies dug out of the ice and rock were taken to the village of Canazei, where Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi was expected later Monday. Helicopters and sniffer dogs were called off as night fell and amid fears the glacier may still be unstable. —AFP

 

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