“Little hope” of finding more survivors in Italian Alps avalanche


“Little hope” of finding more survivors in Italian Alps avalanche

Draghi believes that such a tragedy “shouldn’t happen again”, which experts say is another consequence of global warming

On the day after part of a glacier on Mount Marmolada, in the Eastern Alps, in northeastern Italy, the arrival of a storm interrupted rescue efforts for several hours. Despite the great risk of the operation, rescuers continued their task in the hope of finding more survivors, as happened in the early afternoon when 4 people were found alive and immediately transferred to a hospital. Another body was also found. The balance of this landslide, the result of the high temperatures in the Alps, is 7 dead, 8 injured, 2 seriously, and 13 people whose relatives have informed authorities that they do not know anything about them.

The total number of missing persons is feared to be even higher because 16 cars were parked where the route to Marmolada begins. Several of the dead have already been identified: they are three Italians and a Czechoslovakian, while the identity of the others killed by the avalanche is still unknown. Among the eight injured is a German couple, while local media reported that among the missing are civilians of Italian, German, Czech and Romanian nationality.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi this afternoon visited the town of Canazei, in the province of Trento, where the space from which rescue efforts are coordinated is located and where he met with local authorities. “Today Italy mourns the victims. The government needs to think about what has happened and make decisions so that it is very unlikely to happen again or even be avoided,” Draghi said after thanking the rescuers’ “generosity, professionalism and courage” as the rescue operations take place “in a situation of great danger”.

Due to the tragedy, the head of state, Sergio Mattarella, called the president of Trentino, Maurizio Fugatti, to express his concern about what happened and to express his condolences, and even Pope Francis published a message on social networks assuring that he prayed for the victims of the avalanche in Marmolada and their families. “The tragedies we are experiencing with climate change should prompt us to urgently seek new avenues that respect people and nature,” the pope said.

Numerous experts also believed that what happened is another consequence of global warming. UN scientists have been warning for years that the climate emergency is causing the glaciers of the Alps to disappear, especially those below 3,000 meters. A report carried out two years ago by the environmental association Legambiente together with the Italian Glaciological Committee indicated that the Marmolada Glacier had reduced its volume by 85% between 1905 and 2010, for which its complete disappearance was feared between 15 and 30 years.

In the town of Canazei, where rescue operations were being coordinated, several groups of relatives of the missing bodies arrived during the day to try to identify the bodies found. with the avalanche It is estimated that the avalanche of ice, snow and rocks descended from the mountain at about 300 kilometers per hour, overwhelming at least four groups of hikers.

Alpine Relief personnel, Civil Protection and firefighters participate in the rescue operations, which include using specialized helicopters and drones to discover the heat sources that indicate the presence of a person and the signals from mobile phones. However, according to Giorgio Gajer, the president of Alpine Relief in Alto Adige, there is “little, if not zero,” to find even more survivors. “The avalanche will have crushed them, it’s hard to imagine finding them alive,” he told the Agi agency.

The avalanche was caused by the high temperatures of recent weeks after a winter with very little snow, causing the glacier to lack the protection that snow provided. A record 10 degrees Celsius was reached at Marmolada peak last Saturday, which would have facilitated the loosening of a large block of ice, triggering an avalanche. The weather determines the development of rescue operations. If the high temperatures continue, it is likely that new fractures will form in the glacier, which could pose a threat to rescuers.

The Trento prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation to clarify whether the disaster was solely due to natural causes or could have been caused by human negligence. Prosecutor Sandro Raimondi warned for the time being that the final death toll appears destined to rise. “I fear that the number of victims will at least double or triple, given the high number of missing persons and the fact that 16 cars were parked. The first thing that needs to be done at this point is the identification of the victims, which will not be easy and DNA tests will be needed,” Raimondi said.

The testimonies surrounding the Marmolada tragedy are heartbreaking and paint a bleak picture of death and despair that is hard to imagine. “We found some shattered bodies among the pile of ice and debris scattered over a thousand meters,” Gino Comelli explained to ‘Corriere della Sera’, a specialist in the high mountain rescue teams, who was one of the professionals who arrived first. at the avalanche site. “It’s almost impossible that anyone survived,” another lifeguard confirmed.

Among the testimonies collected by the newspaper is that of Stefano Dal Moro, an engineer who went to the glacier to show it to an Israeli friend. “We heard a dull thud and at that moment a sea of ​​ice came loose. There was no point in running, just praying,” declared the young man, congratulating himself for having both survived the avalanche. Mauro Mabboni, of Trento’s alpine rescue team, a veteran of alpine avalanches, assured that he “never” had seen a landslide like this and, like other experts, did not rule out resorting to DNA testing to identify the bodies. “People got into the vortex and what happened to them hurts like me remember. Because you have to remember that this was not snow, but sharp ice and stone,” he said.

Marina and her husband escaped the disaster within minutes. They had just descended from the Marmolada Terrace when they saw the block fall with tremendous speed. They only remember a “rotten black snow” etched in their memory.

Source: La Verdad


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