VIDEO | Tragedy in Italy: A glacier broke off and hit mountaineers, six died

At least six mountaineers died in an avalanche in the Italian Alps/Photo: Screenshot

At least six people were killed when a large chunk of an alpine glacier broke off from the Marmolado peak in the eastern Dolomites, slid down the mountain and struck more than 10 climbers, local media reported today, citing Reuters.

"Rescue operations are underway after a large ice avalanche that engulfed the mountaineers," said the government of the province of Trento.

The Alpine National Rescue Corps announced on Twitter that at least five helicopters and rescue dogs are involved in the search for the injured climbers, the AP agency reports, citing RAI television.

Emergency dispatchers in northeastern Italy tweeted that about 15 hikers were believed to be in the affected area.

The injured, including one person in critical condition, were transferred to several hospitals in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions, rescue services said.

Marmolada, which rises to about 3.300 meters above sea level, is the highest peak in the eastern Dolomites, and according to the Alpine Rescue Service, the detachment of the glacier happened on a path used by climbers to climb to the top of the mountain, the AP reported.

- It has not been determined what caused the separation of the pieces of ice, but we suspect that it could have happened due to the strong heat wave that hit Italy at the end of June - said Walter Milan, spokesman for the Alpine Rescue Service for RAI, reports the American agency.

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