HomeWorld NewsRescue teams scan mountains for missing after Italian glacier collapses

Rescue teams scan mountains for missing after Italian glacier collapses

CANAZEI, Italy, July 4 (Reuters) – Helicopter crews and drones flew over the Italian Alps on Monday in search of 13 people missing after part of a mountain glacier collapsed, killing at least seven people in a disaster linked to rising temperatures.

Much of Italy baked in an early summer heatwave and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers harder to predict. Read more

Sunday’s avalanche took place on the Marmolada, which at more than 3,300 meters is the highest peak in the Dolomites, a chain in the eastern Italian Alps straddling the regions of Trento and Veneto.

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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the disaster was linked to environmental factors.

“Today Italy mourns these victims,” Draghi said during a visit to meet rescue teams.

“But the government needs to reflect on what happened and take steps to ensure that what happened is unlikely to happen again or can even be avoided,” he added.

Seven people were killed and two of the eight people injured were in serious condition, said Maurizio Fugatti, president of the Trento region.

The summit of Punta Rocca is seen after parts of the Marmolada Glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps amid record high temperatures, killing at least six people and injuring several, on the ridge in Marmolada, Italy, July 4, 2022. REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic

Three people from the Czech Republic were among those missing. An Austrian tourist who was previously reported missing has now been found, local authorities said.

“This is the first such accident in the history of the mountain,” said Gino Comelli, who was helping coordinate rescue efforts.

The peak was too unstable for rescuers to attempt to approach on foot, Comelli said, adding that recent hot weather had been a factor in the collapse.

Pope Francis said he was praying for the victims and their families.

“The tragedies we are experiencing with climate change should urgently compel us to seek new paths that are respectful of people and nature,” he said on Twitter.

Rising average temperatures have caused the Marmolada glacier, like many others around the world, to shrink steadily over the past few decades.

“The collapse of the Marmolada glacier is a natural disaster directly linked to climate change,” said Poul Christoffersen, professor of glaciology at the University of Cambridge.

“High altitude glaciers such as the Marmolada are often steep and depend on cold temperatures below zero degrees Celsius to keep them stable,” he added.

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Additional reporting by Emilio Parodi and Angelo Amante; Written by Giulia Segreti and Keith Weir; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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