Rescuers find body parts after deadly avalanche on Italian glacier | world news

Rescuers have found body parts while searching for missing hikers after a powerful avalanche in Italy killed at least seven people.

Officials initially feared 13 hikers were still missing on the Marmolada Glacier, east of Bolzano in the Dolomites, but the province of Trento reduced the number to five after eight others checked in with authorities.

Rain made searches more difficult on Mondaybut sunny weather on Tuesday allowed helicopters to transport more rescue teams to the site — though hopes of finding another one were dwindling.

A huge chunk of the glacier fell off Sunday, triggering an avalanche that sent a torrent of ice, rocks and debris from the mountainside to unsuspecting hikers below.

Officials said: at least seven people were killed

“We have to be clear, it’s a very small possibility to find someone alive with this kind of event, because the mechanical action of this kind of avalanche has a very big impact on people,” said Alex Barattin of the Alpine Rescue Service. †

Photos taken during a helicopter survey of the site showed a gaping hole in the glacier.

The terrain remains so unstable that rescue teams stayed out of the way and used drones to find survivors or signs of life, while helicopters eavesdropped, with some using equipment to detect pings from cell phones.

Two rescuers stayed at the site overnight, although they were joined by more rescuers on Tuesday morning.

View from a rescue helicopter of the Punta Rocca glacier near Canazei.  Photo: AP
Image:
View from a rescue helicopter of the Punta Rocca glacier near Canazei. Photo: AP

Maurizio Dellantonio, the national president of the Alpine Rescue Service, said teams had found body parts, hiking equipment and clothing atop the rubble, evidence of the avalanche’s powerful impact.

“We have recovered so many fragments in the last two days. They are very painful for those who pick them up. And then for those who have to analyze them,” he said.

“Personally, I can only think that what we found on the surface will be the same as what we’ll find underneath, when the ice melts, or by digging, if there’s a chance.”

Officials have closed all access routes and chairlifts to the glacier to hikers over fears of continued instability and the potential for more chunks of ice to break free.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who visited the rescue base in Canazei on Monday, acknowledged that avalanches are predictable but that the tragedy “definitely depends on the worsening climate situation”.

Italy is currently experiencing an early summer heat wave, along with the north’s worst drought in 70 years. Experts said unusually small amounts of snow fell during the winter, exposing the glaciers of the Italian Alps to the summer heat and melting.

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