Body parts, gear found on Italian glacier after avalanche

Jul 4, 2022, 1:49 PM | Updated: Jul 5, 2022, 1:35 pm

CANAZEI, Italy (AP) — Rescuers found body parts and equipment as they searched Tuesday for hikers missing following a powerful avalanche that killed at least seven people and was blamed in large part on rising temperatures that are melting glaciers.

Officials initially feared 13 hikers were still missing after a huge chunk of the Marmolada glacier cleaved off Sunday in northern Italy. But the province of Trento on Tuesday reduced the number of people unaccounted-for to five, all of them Italian, after eight others checked in with authorities.

One of them is Erica Campagnaro, and on Tuesday her sister Debora Campagnaro, lashed out at the lack of warning about the accumulation of water at the base of the glacier that experts say was evidence of an unusual melt from a heat wave that has been scorching Italy for weeks.

Campagnaro said her sister and brother-in-law, an experienced Alpine guide who is also among the missing, never would have left their two sons at home to go hiking if there had been an alert system as there is in ski season warning about the possibility of snow avalanches.

“Is there an authority that had to prevent people (from going up the mountain) given the weather of that day and the weather of the previous days? Where is this authority?” she asked at the site of the rescue camp.

Rain had hampered the search Monday, but sunny weather on Tuesday allowed helicopters to bring more rescue teams and their drones up to the site on the glacier, east of Bolzano in the Dolomite mountains, even as hopes dimmed of finding anyone alive.

“We have to be clear, finding someone alive with this type of event is a very remote possibility, very remote, because the mechanical action of this type of avalanche has a very big impact on people,” said Alex Barattin of the Alpine Rescue Service.

After the 200-meter (yard) wide chunk of glacier detached, a torrent of ice, rock and debris plowed down the mountainside onto unsuspecting hikers below. At least seven people were killed, two of them Czech, officials said.

Nicola Casagli, a geologist and avalanche expert at Florence University, said the impact of the glacier collapse on the hikers was greater than a mere snow avalanche and would have taken them completely by surprise.

“These types of events, which are ice and debris avalanches, are impulsive, rapid, unpredictable phenomena, reaching very high speeds and involving large masses,” he said. “And there is no chance of getting to safety or perceiving the problem in advance, because by the time you perceive it, you’ve already been hit.”

Associated Press photos, taken during a helicopter survey of the site, showed a gaping hole in the glacier as if the blue-gray ice had been carved out by a giant ice cream scooper.

The terrain was still so unstable that rescue crews stayed off to the side and were using drones to try to find any remains or signs of life while helicopters searched overhead, some using equipment to detect cellular pings.

Maurizio Dellantonio, national president of the Alpine Rescue Service, said teams had found body parts, hiking equipment and clothing on the surface of the debris, evidence of the avalanche’s powerful impact on the hikers.

“We have recovered so many fragments over the last two days. They are very painful for those who pick them up. and then for those who have to analyze them,” he said. “Personally I can only think that what we found on the surface will be the same that we will find underneath, when the ice will melt or by digging, if there is a chance.”

By late Tuesday, he said technical teams had determined it was safe enough for ground rescue workers to start searching the lowest part of the debris, about 700 meters below the detachment site, where drones weren’t working well anyway.

Officials closed all access routes and chair lifts to the glacier for hikers, fearing continued instability and the potential that more chunks of ice might detach.

Premier Mario Draghi, who visited the rescue base in Canazei on Monday, acknowledged avalanches are unpredictable but that the tragedy “certainly depends on the deterioration of the climate situation.”

Italy is in the midst of an early summer heatwave, coupled with the worst drought in northern Italy in 70 years that prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in five northern regions. Experts say there was unusually little snowfall during the winter, exposing the glaciers of the Italian Alps more to the summer heat and melt.

“We are thus in the worst conditions for a detachment of this kind, when there’s so much heat and so much water running at the base,” said Renato Colucci from the Institute of Polar Sciences of the state-run Council for National Research, or CNR.

The CNR has estimated that the Marmolada glacier could disappear entirely in the next 25-30 years if current climatic trends continue, given that it lost 30% of its volume and 22% of its area from 2004-2015.

Maurizio Fugatti, president of the autonomous province of Trento, insisted though that Sunday’s detachment was an “exceptional event, one of a kind,” when asked about why hikers such as Campagnaro and her husband had been allowed on the glacier.

“There were many alpine guides on that side (of the glacier), people who know very well what the situation is,” he said. “On the other hand we can understand the feeling of the relatives and friends of those people affected.”

Casagli said what happened on the Marmolada was unusual, but said such destructive avalanches will become more frequent as global temperatures continue to rise.

“The fact that it happened in a scorching summer with abnormal temperatures must be a wake-up call to understand that these phenomena, while rare, are possible,” he told reporters. “If we don’t take decisive measures to counter the effects of climate change, they will become more and more frequent.”

___

Winfield reported from Rome.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Moose back on the loose after rescuers free it from fence

BARKHAMSTED, Conn. (AP) — A moose is back on the loose in Connecticut after some quick-acting rescuers helped to free it from a fence. The Connecticut State Environmental Police received a call at around midnight about a moose stuck in Barkhamsted, northwest of Hartford. Local fire department personnel and state police responded early Saturday to […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Migrant-death suspect ran detention center accused of abuse

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One of two Texas brothers who authorities say opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring another, was warden at a detention facility with a history of abuse allegations. The shooting happened Tuesday in rural Hudspeth County about 90 miles (145 kilometers) […]
15 hours ago
FILE - People visit a makeshift memorial honoring the victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting in...
Associated Press

Vegas survivors signal hope even as mass shootings persist

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s been five years since carnage and death sent his family running into the night, leaving them separated and terrified as a gunman rained bullets into an outdoor country music festival crowd on the Las Vegas Strip. The memories don’t fade, they sharpen, William “Bill” Henning said as he prepared for […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Man shot several times at California youth football game

ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) — A 34-year-old man was shot several times and seriously wounded at a youth football game Saturday morning in Southern California, police said. Ontario police said the man was targeted on a sidewalk between the playing field and parking lot at Colony High School. No one else was injured, and there was […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

UN says detained Iranian-American was allowed to leave Iran

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An 85-year-old Iranian-American who formerly worked for the U.N. children’s agency and was detained in Iran in 2016 has been permitted to leave the country for medical treatment abroad, the United Nations said Saturday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the departure of Baquer Namazi and said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was grateful […]
15 hours ago
CORRECT NAME OF CYPRUS' PRESIDENT - Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades talks to the media, next t...
Associated Press

Minister: Greece can defend islands despite Turkey’s threats

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Greece has the right to take “all defensive measures” to protect its easternmost islands amid threats by neighboring Turkey that dispute Greek sovereignty rights and raise the specter of war, the Greek defense minister said Saturday. Speaking after Cyprus’ independence day military parade, Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said Turkey’s “revisionist and destabilizing […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Body parts, gear found on Italian glacier after avalanche