A falling serac killed at least six people today on the 3,343m Marmolada, the highest peak in the Italian Dolomites. Another dozen are missing.
The tragedy happened after large chunks of the Marmolada Glacier broke off in two different places. It triggered an ice avalanche about 300m wide that swept through the normal ascent route, affecting around two dozen weekend climbers. Many observers from the region filmed the event.
The collapse occurred at 2 p.m. below Punta Rocca, 3,250 m. Shortly before, the temperature recorded a record 10.3°C at the summit. The avalanche of ice and rocks hit the stretch between Pian dei Fiacconi and Punta Penia, La Repubblica reported.
Evacuation: new falls expected
A rescue operation began immediately, with five helicopters and a ground search with dogs, despite the risk of further avalanches. So far, six bodies have been recovered from the chaos of ice blocks. The search for other victims continues.
Preliminary estimates suggest that 10 to 12 people are still missing. At least eight other people were rescued and airlifted to nearby hospitals, Italy’s National Mountain Rescue Corps reported. Two of the victims were seriously injured.
Everyone in the area, including those staying in mountain huts, was evacuated before further falls occurred.
In winter, Marmolada is easily accessible from two nearby ski resorts. In summer, an easy glacier hike on the north side draws crowds of mountaineers.
Temperatures have been remarkably high in central European beaches lately. The Marmolada summit recorded a record +10°C on Saturday. Today it has even increased slightly. This follows a remarkably dry winter, which left the Alpine glaciers devoid of snow. The hard and exposed fossil ice makes the climbs particularly dangerous.