Tragic avalanche leaves at least six dead in Italian Alps
A catastrophic avalanche in the Italian Alps on July 3rd has left a toll of six dead and up to 15 people missing in the first 24 hours.
A 300-meter ice block, known as a serac, collapsed from the glacier, causing the ice avalanche.
The tragedy took place in the Marmolada, the highest mountain of the Dolomites, between the Italian regions of Trentino and Veneto.
CNN cites the eyewitness account of a local who works at an inn. The man tells that he “heard a loud noise, typical of a landslide, then we saw a kind of avalanche composed of snow and ice and there I realized that something serious had happened”.
Facing the risk of new landslides, the Alpine Rescue Team has closed off the affected area, according to Michela Canova, spokesperson of the Veneto region emergency services.
Meanwhile, the Alpine Rescue Team has evacuated 18 people affected by the avalanche. By July 4th, 15 people were still missing.
Nonetheless, the number of casualties and missing people could rise in the following days as the true scope of the disaster in the area is revealed.
Dozens of Alpine searchers with rescue dogs and five helicopters have been used to look for survivors among the mountains.
However, the Alpine Rescue Team has admitted that chances are slim to none that anyone missing has survived the landslide.
The landslide took place in Punta Rocca, burying one of the most used routes to go up the Marmolada. Two hiking teams, one Italian and one made up of foreign nationals, were hit by the avalanche.
Alpine Rescue Team Member Luigi Felicetti told the press that the crew found “a terrible scene. There were rocks and blocks of ice everywhere. We started to search and encountered the first victims”.
Felicetti claims that the hiking groups were well-equipped, with rope and crampons, but that sadly did very little in the face of tragedy.
Picture: Hayato Shin / Unsplash
“It's such a big massacre that we'll have difficulty identifying the bodies”, Felicetti comments.
Image: Daniel Sessler / Unsplash
Not everyone affected was hit by the initial impact. Eight people were wounded, despite living far from the affected area, hit by the rocks carried by the wind and the slopes.
The survivors and those who have been affected by the landslide have been taken to hospitals in Belluno, Treviso, and Trento. Meanwhile, the bodies were transported to a makeshift morgue in an ice rink in Canazei, a nearby village in the Trentino region.
Reuters highlights that northern Italy has been registering a record-breaking heatwave the past month, with the Marmolada reaching 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) the days before the avalanche.
The BBC reports that over 100 avalanches have been reported in the Alps this year, with many worrying that the current melting of the glaciers due to climate change, it's only a glimpse of the things to come.
Image: Alessio Soggetti / Unsplash