Glacier collapse in Italy Rome blames global warming

(Canazei) The collapse of part of the Marmolada glacier, the largest in the Italian Alps, is clearly linked to global warming, the Italian Prime Minister confirmed on Monday, a day after the disaster that killed at least seven people and eight were injured.

Updated at 11:27 am

Francesco GILIOLI with Gaël BRANCHEREAU in Rome
Media Agency France

14 people are also reported missing by their families, but their presence when the glacier broke has not been confirmed. Among the injured are two Germans, a 67-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman, who remain in serious condition.

The disaster, which occurred the day after a record temperature of 10ºC at the top of the glacier, amid an early heatwave in the Italian peninsula, is “undoubtedly” linked to “the deterioration of the environmental and climatic situation,” explained Mario Draghi at the scene on Monday and expressed his “support” for the families of the victims.

Rescuers deployed drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras in hopes of locating survivors in the mass of ice and crumbling rocks, Canazei city mayor Giovanni Bernard told AFP. “These are dangerous conditions for the rescuers” who cannot advance on foot.


Rescuers participating in the search board a helicopter.

The chances of finding survivors are “almost zero,” warned the head of the region’s mountain rescue service, Giorgio Gajer, to the AGI agency.

“I was on the terrace of the refuge, I heard a rumble, I turned left and saw a mass of ice coming down the mountain and then a big cloud of dust. It took two or three minutes and the ice cloud broke up,” Luca Medici, 54, a ski instructor living in Canazei, told AFP.

Only three of the seven victims have been identified, but their nationalities have not been disclosed by authorities.

Accelerated melting

The glacier collapsed near the village of Punta Rocca, along the route normally taken to reach its summit.


The tragedy “is the consequence of the current meteorological conditions, ie an episode of early heat coinciding with the problem of global warming,” explained AFP Professor Massimo Frezzotti of the Faculty of Science at the University of Roma Tre.

“Melting has accelerated in the Alps. We had an extremely dry winter with a rainfall deficit of 40-50%. The current glacier conditions correspond to mid-August, not early July,” the researcher said.

“Unfortunately, due to these very high temperatures, a pool of water has formed under the glacier, causing the collapse,” said Paolo Talmon, 56, owner of the Marmolada Glacier Inn. “I’ve lived here for 50 years and this is the first time I’ve seen this. »

“Queen of the Dolomites”

Footage filmed from a shelter near the disaster shows debris from the glacier mixed with rocks tumbling down the slopes of the mountain with a crashing sound at 300 km/h, according to local authorities. Other pictures taken by tourists with their cellphones show the avalanche’s gray tongue from afar, sweeping away everything in its path and leaving climbers no chance.

In images sent by the Alpine Rescue Service, we can see rescuers working near the scene of the accident, over which helicopters fly to transport the victims down the valley to the village of Canazei, not far from the site of from which the cable car leads to the top of the glacier.

The Marmolada Glacier, also known as the “Queen of the Dolomites”, is the largest glacier in this mountain range of northern Italy, which is part of the Alps. Located in Trentino, it springs from the Avisio River and overlooks Lake Fedaia.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reportah March, melting ice and snow is one of the top 10 threats caused by global warming, disrupting ecosystems and threatening certain infrastructure.

The IPCC warns that glaciers in Scandinavia, Central Europe and the Caucasus could lose 60 to 80% of their mass by the end of the century.

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