Rescue workers warned on Monday that the avalanche was eroding people’s chances of survival.At least seven people died during the heat wave.
Officials said they did not know how many climbers were affected by the glacier collapse on Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomites, on Sunday. According to Maurizio Fugatti, head of the province of Trento, the collapse caused snow and rock to roar down the slope at a speed of 185 mph.
On Monday, rescuers armed with thermal drones discovered body heat from potential survivors trapped in the snow. But the chances of finding additional survivors are now “nothing,” as too much time has passed since the fatal avalanche occurred, Giorgio Gjer, the head of the regional Alpine Rescue Service, said in comments to the AGI news agency.
After six bodies were recovered from the mountain, rescuer Gino Comelli said those found were “broken” as a result of the tragedy.
The death toll rose as search and rescue operations progressed in Marmolada on Monday. According to the AGI, Fugatti confirmed seven people were killed as of late evening, while eight people were injured and at least 14 others were missing. The condition of two of the injured passengers is said to be critical and only three of the dead could be immediately identified. It is still not clear how many people were trapped in the avalanche. missing persons report The pouring continued throughout the day.
The disaster came a day after a record-high temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded at the summit of the glacier, the highest in the Italian Alps.
The glacier was weakened by decades of global warming, experts said.
Alpine Rescue spokeswoman Michela Canova told AFP that “an avalanche of snow, ice and rock” hit the approach road when there were several ropes, “some of which were washed away.”
A spokesman for the province of Trento said there were still reports of people missing.
Trento’s chief prosecutor Sandro Raimondi was quoted by Corriere della Serra as saying he feared the death toll could “double if not triple” based on the number of cars left in a parking lot near the mountain.
But Canova urged caution, saying the total number of climbers involved “is not yet known.” At that time, eight people had reportedly recovered with injuries.
Bodies removed from the snow and rock were taken to the village of Canazi, where Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi traveled to talk about the avalanche on Monday. Helicopters and sniffer dogs were called back as night fell amid fears that the glacier may still be unstable.
“It’s difficult for rescuers in a dangerous situation,” Canazi’s mayor Giovanni Bernard told AFP.
Images of avalanches filmed from a refuge show snow and rock hurtling down the mountain’s slopes.
“It is a miracle that we are alive,” Stefano Dal Moro, an engineer who was hiking with his Israeli partner, told the newspaper Corriere della Sera. “There was a dull noise, then that sea of ice came down. It’s useless to run, you can only pray it doesn’t get in your way. We bowed down and hugged each other tightly as the snow passed “
Massimo Frazzotti, a science professor at Roma Tre University, told AFP that the collapse was caused by unusually warm weather linked to global warming, with 40-50% precipitation during dry winters.
“The current position of the glacier is in mid-August, not early July,” he said.
Glacier expert Renato Colucci told AGI that the event was “bound to repeat itself,” because “altitude temperatures in the Alps have been well above normal values for weeks.”
He said the recent warm temperatures had produced large amounts of water from the melting glacier that had accumulated beneath the ice block and caused its collapse.
The Trento Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation to determine the cause of the tragedy.
The IPCC has stated that glaciers in Scandinavia, Central Europe and the Caucasus could lose between 60 and 80% of their mass by the end of the century.