Six people have died in a glacier collapse in the Italian Alps as temperatures are ‘significantly above normal’

An avalanche triggered by the collapse of the largest glacier in the Italian Alps killed at least six people and injured eight more on Sunday, an emergency services official said.
The glacier crashed onto Mount Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomites, near the village of Punta Rocca, on the route normally used to reach its summit.
The disaster occurred a day after a record high temperature of 10 degrees was recorded at the top of the glacier.

“An avalanche of snow, ice and rocks hit the driveway at a time when there were several groups tied up with ropes, some of which were swept away,” emergency services spokeswoman Michela Canova said.


She added that six people were killed and eight were injured.
Two of the wounded were taken to the hospital in Belluno, another in a more serious condition was taken to Treviso and five to Trento.
“The total number of climbers involved is not yet known,” Ms Canova said.

She did not specify the nationality of the victims, but Italian media report that there are foreigners among them.


A handout from a video provided by the Italian Alpine Rescue Service shows a rescue operation following an avalanche on Mount Marmolada near Punta Rocca, Trento, Italy on July 3, 2022. Source: EPA / SOCCORSO ALPINO / HANDOUT / EPA

Helicopters were raised to participate in rescue operations and monitor the situation from the air.

Rescuers in the nearby Veneto region in northeast Italy said they have deployed all of their alpine teams, including search dogs.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed “sincere condolences” to the victims and their families on Twitter.

Fear of further collapses

Footage taken from a shelter near the scene shows snow and rocks flying down the mountainside, creating a thunderous noise.
In other footage taken by tourists on mobile phones, you can see how a grayish avalanche sweeps away everything in its path.
The Mountain Rescue Team released images showing rescuers and helicopters at the scene taking victims from the valley to the village of Canazei.
Their task was made more difficult by the fact that the bodies were trapped under a layer of ice and rock.

A team of psychologists helped the relatives of the victims.


Experts quoted by the Corriere della Sera newspaper said they feared further ice collapse.
Massimo Frazzotti, professor of natural sciences at Rome Tre University, said the collapse was caused by unusually warm weather associated with global warming, when precipitation fell by 40 to 50 percent during a dry winter.
“The current states of the glacier correspond to mid-August, not early July,” he said.
Glacier specialist Renato Colucci told Italy’s AGI agency that the phenomenon “must repeat” because “for several weeks, temperatures at altitude in the Alps have been well above normal.”

He added that recent high temperatures have created a lot of water from the melting glacier, which accumulated at the bottom of the block of ice and caused it to collapse.


This July 3, 2022 photo from Canazei shows a rescue team assisting drones at night, lighting up the site where an ice serac collapsed killed six people in the Marmolada mountains. Source: Getty / PIERRE THEYSSOT/AFP via Getty Images

The Marmolada glacier is the largest in the Dolomites mountain range, which is part of the Italian Alps and is located on the northern side of the Marmolada.

The glacier, nicknamed the “Queen of the Dolomites”, feeds the Avisio River and rises above Lake Fedaya in the autonomous Italian province of Trento.
According to the March report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), melting ice and snow is one of the top 10 threats caused by global warming, destroying ecosystems and infrastructure.
The IPCC has said that by the end of the century, glaciers in Scandinavia, Central Europe and the Caucasus could lose 60 to 80 percent of their mass.
The traditional way of life of people like the Sámi in Finnish Lapland who breed reindeer has already suffered.

Melting permafrost is also hindering economic activity in Canada and Russia.