At least six dead in glacier collapse in Italian Dolomites

At least six people died and eight were injured after a section of a glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps on Sunday, said Walter Milan, a spokesman for Italy’s National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps.

A deluge of snow, ice and rocks on the Marmolada mountain range, the highest of the Dolomites, engulfed a popular summit route where some mountaineers were rope-climbing, the Veneto Region Emergency Service posted on Twitter.

The names and nationalities of the victims were not yet known, Milan said. Several helicopters were reportedly on the scene. Eighteen people were evacuated and emergency services checked parked cars to determine if anyone was still missing.

Mr Milan said it was the largest accident of its kind on the mountain in decades. The high temperatures of recent days may have contributed to accelerating the melting of the ice, Mr. Milan, adding that it was a very complex phenomenon involving many factors.

In recent days, Mr. Milan, the mountain had seen record temperatures. The accident came after a heat wave had scorched parts of Europe for several weeks.

The effects of global warming on Marmolada Glacier, known as the Queen of the Dolomites, have been unfolding for years, with the glacier shrinking at a rapid rate.

Between 2004 and 2015, the glacier’s volume shrank by 30 percent, according to a 2019 study by Italy’s National Research Council and international universities. If the trend continues, the glacier will disappear in the next 25 to 30 years, the study predicted.

A few days before the accident, Carlo Budel, the manager of a lodge on top of the glacier, posted a video of it on Facebook, saying the glacier was in bad shape. “Poor Marmolada Glacier,” he wrote in the caption. “This year, this glacier is taking such a hit.”

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