Six people are confirmed dead and up to 20 others are missing after a glacier collapsed on Sunday, sending a barrage of ice, water and rock down the side of a popular hiking mountain in Italy.
The disaster on the 3,343 meter Marmolada, the highest mountain of the Dolomites, occurred after a period of prolonged warmth. Records show the temperature at the summit has mainly stayed above freezing since May.
On Sunday evening, the National Alpine and Cave Rescue Corps confirmed the provisional death toll in a tweet. News agency ANSA reported that up to 20 more were missing. Nine people are injured.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi was heading for the area on Monday morning to assess the damage.
A statement from the Palazzo Chigi said Draghi expressed “his deepest condolences for the victims of the terrible collapse on the Marmolada. The government is close to their families and to all the wounded.”
A rescue effort is underway, although the instability of the ice sheet above meant it was dangerous to work in the area below the glacier.
Trento prosecutor’s office has opened a file on the collapse, ANSA said, to investigate whether official negligence had led to the deaths of those hikers.