Rome, Jul 4 (EFE).- At least 20 hikers have gone missing after a chunk of an Alpine glacier detached and slid down the Marmolada mountain in the Italian Alps, claiming the lives of six people and injuring another nine, sources from the Alpine Rescue Service said Monday.
Rescuers have resumed the search for the missing although drones equipped with thermal cameras capable of detecting heat emitted by a person even in the dark were used overnight.
The rescue operation will depend on the weather conditions since low temperatures are essential to ensuring the safety of the rescuers amid the possibility of more landslides occurring.
The rescuers rule out the possibility of survivors due to the violence of the avalanche that hurtled down at over 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) after the collapse of a serac – as these fractures in the glaciers are called – between Punta Rocca and Penia Point.
There are six confirmed deaths so far, including three Italians, a Czechoslovakian, and an unidentified man and woman, who have been taken to the sports center in the nearby Canazei village.
The parking lot, from where cable cars take hikers to the top of Marmolada, is also being monitored as there are 16 cars whose owners have not yet returned for them.
The glacier collapse occurred after several days of high temperatures in the region.
Temperatures on Marmolada’s summit reached a record 10 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
The tragedy also puts the spotlight on the impact of global warming on alpine glaciers.
Italian National Research Center expert Roberto Colucci said such incidents were bound to happen again because, according to a recently published study, the Marmolada glacier will not exist in another 25 to 30 years.
The expert told reporters that according to projections, 70 percent of Alpine glaciers were likely to have disappeared by 2100. EFE