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Final Death Toll in Italian Glacier Collapse Reaches 11

It was feared a 12th person could have been killed, but rescuers now say there is no reason to believe the toll will be higher. A day of mourning has been held. Rising temperatures have been widely blamed for the tragedy. UPDATED

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Italian police have said 11 people died when a glacier collapsed on the Marmolada mountain in the Dolomites in the eastern Alps last weekend.

“We can say we have been very quick in completing our work and reaching a final tally of 11 deaths,” said Giampietro Lago, the head of a scientific police unit drafted to help with the identification process.

Drones and helicopters were used to search for bodies and any survivors after the site was declared too dangerous for widespread use of people on the ground.

The identities of six of the dead have been revealed.

They are two people from the Czech Republic and four from Italy.

Two of the Italians are local mountain guides

Locals have held a day of mourning to honour those killed.

“Operations on the ground will only be carried out to recover any remains discovered by the drones, to ensure rescuers’ safety,” said the Trentino Alpine Rescue Service.

The tragedy happened as a large part of the glacier on Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Dolomites at over 3,300m, collapsed last Sunday.

Ice, snow and rock cascaded down the mountain and hit a number of hikers and mountaineers.

The huge mass of ice collapsed close to Punta Rocca the route usually used by hikers and climbers to reach the summit.

It went down the mountainside at 300 kph, nearly 200 mph, according to local experts.

Aerial footage showing close-up detail of the glacier collapse has been released by the Italian Fire Brigade.

See this report from last week:

 

Here is the latest aeriel video footage:

A temporary morgue was set up in the ice rink in the local town of Canazei to receive the bodies.

A police DNA analysis team has been deployed to assist with identifying the victims.

It likely happened due to recent warm temperatures and long-term climate change.

Temperatures reached +10c on the glacier at the time of the accident.

“The heat is unusual,” said rescue service spokesperson, Walter Milan.

“Clearly it’s something abnormal.”

We look at the issue in this related story on PlanetSKI and what the future might hold:

The Pope said he was praying for the victims and their families.

“The tragedies that we are experiencing with climate change should force us urgently to pursue new ways that respect people and nature,” Pope Francis said on Twitter.

We reported on the tragedy in full at the time:

“An avalanche of snow, ice and rock which in its path hit the access road when there were several roped parties, some of which were swept away,” said emergency services spokeswoman Michela Canova.

At least 26 people were caught in an avalanche Sunday at 1:30 pm local time.

The injured hikers, including two people in a critical condition, were taken to a number of hospitals around the area.

Marmolada ice collapse. Image c/o Alpine rescue services.

Marmolada ice collapse. Image c/o Alpine rescue services.

“This is the first such accident in the history of the mountain,” said rescue coordinate, Gino Comelli.

The Trento public prosecutor’s office has begun an investigation to determine the causes of the accident.

Marmolada ice collapse. Image c/o Alpine rescue services.

Marmolada ice collapse. Image c/o Alpine rescue services.

Main image c/o Alpine Rescue Services, Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico.

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