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Rescuers find body parts after deadly avalanche on Italian glacier

Rescuers found body parts after searching for hikers who were missing following an avalanche that killed at least seven people in Italy.

Initial fears were that 13 hikers might still be missing from the Marmolada glacier east of Bolzano, Dolomite Mountains. However, officials reduced the number of missing hikers to five after eight other people checked in with authorities.

Heavy rain on Monday hampered search efforts, but sunshine on Tuesday allowed rescue helicopters to transport more teams to the site. However, there were fewer chances of finding anyone alive.

On Sunday, a large chunk of the glacier was blown off, triggering an avalanche that sent ice, rock, and debris down the mountainside to unsuspecting hikers below.

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Officials stated that at least seven people were murdered.

“We need to be very clear. Finding someone alive with this kind of event is very unlikely, very distant because the mechanical action caused by this type avalanche has very large impacts on people,” stated Alex Barattin, of the Alpine Rescue Service.

Photographs taken by helicopter showed a large gap in the glacier.

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Rescue crews were unable to reach the terrain and instead used drones to search for survivors. Helicopters searched overhead, some using equipment to detect mobile phone calls.

Two rescuers were still on the scene overnight. However, they were joined on Tuesday morning by additional rescuers.

Image: This is a view from a rescue helicopter over the Punta Rocca glacier, near Canazei. Pic: AP

Maurizio Delantonio was the national president of Alpine Rescue Service. He said that teams found clothing, equipment, and body parts on top of the debris. This is evidence of the avalanche’s devastating impact.

“We have been able to recover so many fragments in the past two days. These fragments are extremely painful for anyone who picks them up. He added that they are very painful for those who need to analyze them.”

“Personallly, I believe that the surface results will be the same as what we find under the ice, or digging if we have a chance.”

Over fears of continued instability and the possibility that more pieces might fall, officials have shut down all access routes to the glacier and chair lifts.

Mario Draghi, Italy’s Prime Minister, visited Canazei to see the rescue base. He acknowledged that avalanches can be predicted but said the fate of this tragedy “certainly depended on the deterioration in the climate situation”.

Italy is currently experiencing an unusually hot summer and the worst drought in its north for 70 years. Experts stated that there was a very low amount of snowfall in winter which exposed the Italian Alps’ glaciers to summer heat and melting.

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