Tracing continues after an avalanche in the Italian Alps

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A glacier collapse in the Italian Alps, which experts have attributed to global warming, has killed at least seven and left five missing. Eight other people affected have already been reported to the authorities.

Rescue teams continue to search for five people missing after the avalanche on Sunday, July 3, on the Marmolada glacier, the highest peak of the Dolomites, a mountain range in the Alps of eastern Italy, located in the Trento and Veneto regions.

To date, there are records of at least seven deaths. This Tuesday, Italian media reported the discovery of eight others missing. One of them appeared in a hospital in Treviso, near Venice, where he has been receiving treatment since July 3.

“The current situation is the continuation of the rescue activities with the joint efforts of the rescuers in the Alps and all the state departments that are here,” said Maurizio Dillantonio, National President of Salvamento Albino.

Little hope of finding survivors after the avalanche

Although rescue teams found human footprints and climbing materials at three or four points on the mountain on Tuesday, they believe the chance of finding survivors is slim if not zero.

“We have to be clear, finding someone alive with this kind of event is a very, very remote possibility, because the mechanical action of this type of avalanche has a very big impact on people,” said Alex Baratin, of Salvamento Albino. .

With the mountaintop still unstable and the risk of more landslides, rescuers are using drones and helicopters to search for victims or try to locate them through their cell phone signals.

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“We fly over the area and when we find some remains, they are quickly lowered with ropes, some sort of photographic documentation is done, the find is captured and brought back again,” explained Dilantonio.

“What we find on the surface will be the same as what we will find below (the avalanche),” when the ice melts, because “we can’t dig” because “the ice block has held together too much to excavate.” The head of the Alpine Rescue in Trentino, Walter Cainelli, noted.

Cainelli also explained that recovering victims is a difficult task “because doing so puts first responders at risk.”

Giovanni Bernard, mayor of Canazei, confirmed that Marmolada “will remain closed to tourists for the time being” to focus the authorities’ attention on rescue missions.

The authorities consider that it is possible that two Czech citizens will be among those affected, after the car of one of them has remained since Sunday in the parking lot from which it is heading towards the glacier.

Climate change caused the avalanche according to experts

The avalanche is largely attributed to rising global temperatures, which is causing glaciers to melt in different parts of the world. Italy has suffered a heat wave since early summer, along with the worst drought in the north of the country in 70 years.

Snowfall was unusually light during the winter, making the glaciers of the Italian Alps more exposed to the summer heat and melting.

“The fact that this happens in a hot summer and abnormal temperatures should serve as a wake-up call to understand that these phenomena, while rare, are possible,” Nicola Casagli, a geologist and avalanche expert at the AP, told the AP. University of Florence. “If we do not take decisive action to counteract the effects of climate change, it will be more and more frequent,” he added.

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For his part, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, during his visit to the rescue base in Canazie, stressed that the tragedy “certainly depends on the deterioration of the climatic situation.”

Meanwhile, the National Research Council (CNR), a government agency, has indicated that the Marmolada glacier could completely disappear within the next 25 or 30 years if current climate trends continue. So far, it has lost 30% of its volume, and 22% of its surface between 2004 and 2015.

With EFE, AP and Reuters

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