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Rescue teams scan the mountains for the missing after the collapse of Italian glaciers

Rescue teams scan the mountains for the missing after the collapse of Italian glaciers

CANAZI, Italy (Reuters) – Helicopters and drones flew over the Italian Alps on Monday, searching for 13 people missing after a section of a glacier collapsed, killing at least seven people in a heat-related disaster.

Much of Italy was baking in a heat wave in early summer and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers difficult to predict. Read more

Sunday’s avalanche occurred in Marmolada, which at more than 3,300 meters is the highest peak in the Dolomites, a chain in the eastern Italian Alps that stretches through the regions of Trento and Veneto.

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

“Italy is crying today for these victims,” ​​Draghi said during a visit to meet rescue teams.

“But the government should think about what happened and take steps to ensure that what happened is unlikely to do it again or even avoidable,” he added.

Maurizio Fogatti, head of the Trento region, said seven people were killed and two seriously.

The summit of Punta Roca is seen after parts of the Marmolada glacier in the Italian Alps collapsed amid record temperatures, killing at least six people and injuring many, in Italy’s Marmolada mountain range, July 4, 2022. REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic

Among the missing were three people from the Czech Republic. The local authorities said that the Austrian tourist, who was reported missing earlier, has now been tracked down.

“This is the first such accident in the mountain’s history,” said Gino Comelli, who was helping to coordinate the rescue effort.

The peak was so unstable that rescuers could hardly approach it on foot, Komili said, adding that recent hot weather was a factor in the collapse.

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

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“The tragedies we are experiencing with climate change must urgently compel us to follow new ways that respect people and nature,” he said on Twitter.

Rising average temperatures have caused the Marmolada glacier, like many other rivers around the world, to shrink steadily over recent decades.

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

He added that “high glaciers such as the Marmolada are often very steep and depend on temperatures below zero Celsius to maintain their stability.”

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Additional reporting by Emilio Parodi and Angelo Amanti; Writing by Julia Segretti and Keith Weir; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.