ROME (AP) — A large piece of Alpine glacier broke off Sunday afternoon and roared down the slope of a mountain in Italy, hitting hikers on a popular trail at the summit with ice, snow and rocks, killing at least six people and injuring eight. .
Walter Milan, spokesman for the national Alpine rescue forces, which maintains the death and injury rate, said it was not immediately clear how many hikers were in the area or whether anyone was missing.
Milan said in a phone call that rescuers were checking the license plates in the parking lot as part of the checks to determine how many people could not be held responsible.
“We saw dead[people]and huge chunks of ice, rocks,” the weary-looking rescuer Luigi Felicetti told Italian state television.
The nationality or age of the dead were not immediately available, Milan said. Emergency referral services said two of the eight people hospitalized were in serious condition.
Local online media site ildolomiti.it said the fast-moving avalanche “falls with a roar that can be heard from far away.”
Earlier, the National Alpine and Cave Rescue Corps tweeted that at least five helicopters and rescue dogs were involved in the search of the relevant area of the Marmolada peak.
The SUEM dispatch service in the nearby Veneto region said that 18 people above the ice-hit area will be evacuated by Alpine rescue troops.
However, Milan said some people on the slope are able to descend on their own, including using the overhead cable car.
SUEM said the avalanche consisted of “spoiled snow, ice and rocks.” The separated section is known as the serrac or the peak of the ice.
Rising about 3,300 meters (about 11,000 feet), Marmolada is the highest peak in the eastern Dolomites and offers spectacular views of other Alpine peaks.
The Alpine rescue service said in a tweet that the segment split off near Punta Rocca (Rock Point) “along the route normally used to reach the summit.”
It was not immediately clear what had caused the ice section to break off and fall off the hillside. But the intense heatwave that has gripped Italy since late June could be a factor.
Maurizio Fugatti, head of the Province of Trento, which borders Marmolada, told Sky TG24 news that the temperatures of these days clearly had an impact on the partial collapse of the glacier.
However, Milan stressed that the unusually high temperature of over 10 C (50 F) at the summit of Marmolada in recent days was only one possible factor in Sunday’s tragedy.
“There are so many factors that could be involved,” Milan said. Said. Avalanches in general are unpredictable, he said, and the effect of heat on a glacier is “even more impossible to predict.”
In separate statements to Italian state television, Milan described the latest temperatures as “extreme heat” for the summit. “It’s clear that something abnormal has happened.”
According to rescuers, the injured were taken to multiple hospitals in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions.
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