At least six people died and eight were injured after a chunk of a glacier collapsed in Italy’s Alps on Sunday, said Walter Milan, a spokesman for Italy’s National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps.
A deluge of snow, ice and rock on the Marmolada mountain group, the tallest of the Dolomites, overran a popular summit route, where a number of alpinists had been rope climbing, the emergency service for the Veneto region posted on Twitter.
The victims’ names and nationalities were not yet known, Mr. Milan said. Several helicopters were reportedly at the scene. Eighteen people were evacuated, and emergency crews were checking parked cars to determine if people were still missing.
Mr. Milan said that it was the biggest accident of its kind on the mountain in decades. High temperatures in recent days could have contributed by accelerating the melting of the ice, Mr. Milan said, adding that it was a very complex phenomenon with many factors at play.
In recent days, Mr. Milan said, the mountain had experienced record temperatures. The accident came as a heat wave has scorched parts of Europe for several weeks.
The effects of global warming on the Marmolada glacier, known as the queen of the Dolomites, have been unfolding for years, with the glacier shrinking at a fast pace.
Between 2004 and 2015 the volume of the glacier shrank by 30 percent, according to a 2019 study by Italy’s National Research Council and international universities. If the trend continues, the glacier will disappear in the next 25 to 30 years, the research predicted.