Among the missing are 11 Italians, four Czech nationals, three Romanians and a French national, local news agency ANSA said on Monday.
The landslide occurred during an early heat wave that saw temperatures soar to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit on Marmolada in recent days. The relief corps said the heat was “abnormal”, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Experts have long warned that avalanches are becoming more frequent as global temperatures rise, saying warming can destabilize mountain climates and accelerate the melting of glaciers.
“Fortunately, the weather conditions are good, but the danger is that there could be further collapses,” a spokesman told Reuters as Italian state television reported that rescuers had seen dead alongside. “huge chunks of ice”.
Glacier collapse occurred near Punta Roccaa route climbers use to reach the summit, Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia said as an alpine rescue unit share an emergency number that people could call if their loved ones did not return from excursions in the region.
Incredible images from a helicopter of the mountain rescue of the basal detachment of Marmolada.
Water lubrication at the base (or interstrata) and increased pressure in water-filled crevices are likely the primary causes of this catastrophic event. pic.twitter.com/2OXRExkdjy
— Alpine-Adriatic Meteorological Society (@aametsoc) July 3, 2022
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi Free condolences and thanked the rescuers. Officials estimated on Monday that up to 16 people may have been swept away in the collapse.
Rising to around 11,000 feet, La Marmolada is the highest peak in the Eastern Dolomites – a UNESCO World Heritage Site estimated to be over 200 million years old. La Marmolada is nicknamed the “Queen of the Dolomites”, a region popular with nature and adventure lovers.
A report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this year highlighted the devastating impact of climate change, including the irreversible loss of glaciers by the end of this century.
“Mountain regions have always been affected by too much or too little water,” the report says. “Due to climate change, the dangers are rapidly changing and becoming even more unpredictable.”
The increased risk of such hazards forces people in mountainous regions to move, leading to mass displacements in countries such as Thailand, Afghanistan and Peru.
Italian officials said the injured were being treated at hospitals in the cities of Belluno, Treviso, Trento and Bolzano, Reuters reported.
Mountain glaciers could have less ice than expected, straining freshwater supplies