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Courmayeur Defends Its Action On Threatened Glacier Collapse

Homes and hotels were evacuated earlier this month over fears that a massive ice block could fall from a Mont Blanc glacier.  The threat has now been lifted.

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The evacuation order affected an area on the Italian side of Mont Blanc –  Monte Bianco as it’s known in Italy.

Footpaths and access to part of the mountain were closed.

There were fears that an ice block of 500,000 cubic metres on the Planpincieux glacier could collapse.

But some locals were critical of the decision to close off the area, complaining that it damaged a tourist season already badly affected by coronavirus.

The closure was lifted within days of being introduced.

The Mayor Courmayeur, Stefano Miserocchi, said he recognised the inconvenience caused and the economic repercussions, but safety was the first priority.

He thanked everyone involved for their co-operation.

Courmayeur Town Council

Courmayeur Town Council

“The preventative Civil Protection actions implemented were necessary to ensure the safety and security of people and guests of Courmayeur,” a statement on the Town Council’s website says.

“The civil protection actions are based on the forecast of the greatest risk and therefore on the possible risk of a 500 thousand cubic metres portion of the glacier falling.”

It goes on: “The monitoring and alert system for glaciological risks launched over the years, in particular on the Planpincieux glacier, are an important and fundamental support for the Alpine communities, guaranteeing their safety, even if the culture of risk is not always understood by all.”

The Town Council criticised what it called the ‘alarmist tones’ of some national and international newspapers, pointing out that the threat was very localised with the only a small ‘red zone’ at the base of the mountain evacuated.

It’s thought some 20 resident and 55 holidaymakers were moved out of the danger area.

Area affected by risk of glacier collapse, Courmayeur Aug 2020

The affected area

The rest of the Courmayeur area and its valleys remained open as usual for tourism.

Last September similar action was taken after officials said part of the Planpincieux glacier could collapse.

Researchers say the link between global warming and the threat to the Planpincieux glacier is obvious.

The retreat of the glacier has been dramatic over the past 30 years with increasingly frequent heatwaves.

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