A large chunk of Alpine glacier broke loose Sunday afternoon and slid down a mountainside in Italy and struck hikers, leaving at least six dead and dozen missing.
Walter Milan, a spokesperson for the national Alpine rescue corps, said eight hikers were injured but did not disclose how many people were in the area.
Of the eight hospitalized survivors, two were in grave condition, according to emergency dispatch services.
Milan added that rescuers were checking license plates in the parking lot as part of checks to determine how many people might be unaccounted for.
— The informant (@theinformantofc) July 3, 2022
The SUEM dispatch service, which is based in the nearby Veneto region, noted that 18 people who were above the area of Marmolada where the ice struck would be evacuated by the Alpine rescue corps.
SUEM also indicated that the avalanche consisted of a “pouring down of snow, ice, and rock.” The detached section is known as a serrac, or pinnacle of ice.
In a tweet, the Alpine rescue service said the segment broke off near Punta Rocca (Rock Point), “along the itinerary normally used to reach the peak.”
“The temperatures of these days clearly had influence” on the glacier’s partial collapse, Maurizio Fugatti, the president of Trento Province, which borders Marmolada, told Sky TG24 news.
But Milan stressed that high heat, which soared unusually above 10 C (50 F) on Marmolada’s peak in recent days, was only one possible factor in Sunday’s tragedy.
“There are so many factors that could be involved,” Milan said. Avalanches, in general, aren’t predictable, he said, noting that heat’s influence on a glacier “is even more impossible to predict.”