ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Rescue teams scan mountains for missing after Italian glacier collapse

Much of Italy has been baking in an early-summer heatwave and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers more difficult to predict.

Rescue operation after parts of a mountain glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps, at Marmolada
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi visits the emergency operations centre after parts of the Marmolada glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps amid record temperatures, in Canazei, Italy, July 4, 2022.
REUTERS / Borut Zivulovic
We are part of The Trust Project.

CANAZEI, Italy - Helicopter crews and drones flew over the Italian Alps on Monday searching for 13 people missing after part of a mountain glacier collapsed, killing at least seven people in a disaster experts linked to rising temperatures.

Much of Italy has been baking in an early-summer heatwave and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers more difficult to predict.

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

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

"Today Italy weeps for these victims," Draghi said during a visit to meet rescue teams.

ADVERTISEMENT

"But the government must think about what has happened and take steps to ensure that what happened is unlikely to do so again or can even be avoided," he added.

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

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

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

The peak was too unstable for rescuers to try 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 that we are experiencing with climate change should force us urgently to pursue new ways that respect 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 recent decades.

ADVERTISEMENT

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

"High elevation glaciers such as the Marmolada are often steep and relying on cold temperatures below zero degrees Celsius to keep them stable," he added.

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

More Nation/World coverage:

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
The blasts engulfed an ammunition depot at a military base in the north of the Crimean peninsula, disrupting trains and forcing the evacuation of 2,000 people from a nearby village, according to Russian officials and news agencies.
The world nuclear watchdog has said the world risks a disaster if the fighting does not stop. Ukrainian and Russian-installed officials have traded accusations over who is responsible for attacks close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.
In the 12 months since the United States' chaotic withdrawal, some Afghans have welcomed improved security but struggled with poverty, drought, malnutrition and the fading hope among women that they will have a decisive role in the country's future.
Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over multiple recent incidents of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Russian troops captured the station early in the war.