Highlights

  • Rescue operation resumed in avalanche-hit Italian Alps
  • At least six people were killed and several are missing
  • A glacial meltdown triggered the massive avalanche

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6 killed in an avalanche in Italy, rescue operations resume

Rescue operations resumed in a popular hiking trail in the Italian Alpines, a day after a huge chunk of a glacier broke loose, sending an avalanche of ice, snow, and rocks slamming into hikers. At least six people were killed and several are missing. 

Rescue operations continued Monday on an Italian Alpine mountainside, a day after a huge chunk of a rapidly melting glacier broke loose, sending an avalanche of ice, snow and rocks slamming into hikers.

At least six people were killed and an indeterminate number are missing.

On Sunday, rescuers spotted six bodies and found nine injured survivors.

Authorities are trying to ascertain the number of people who might have been hiking on the Marmolada peak on the fateful day and are unaccounted for. As many as sixteen cars remained unclaimed in the area's parking lot.

It was unclear how many of the cars might have belonged to the already identified victims or to the injured, all of whom were flown by helicopters on Sunday to hospitals in northeastern Italy.

After the search was temporarily halted on Sunday night, officials said about 15 people could be missing, but stressed the situation was evolving.

Rescuers said conditions downslope from the glacier, which has been melting for decades, were still too unstable to immediately send teams of people and dogs to dig into tons of debris.

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Premier Mario Draghi and the head of the national Civil Protection agency were expected to go on Monday to Canazei, a tourist town in the Dolomite range which has been serving as a base for rescuers.

Relatives were also expected to go to the town to identify bodies when rescuers can safely remove them from the mountain.

What caused a pinnacle of the glacier to break off and thunder down the slope at a speed estimated by experts at some 300 kph (nearly 200 mph), wasn't immediately known.

But the heat wave gripping Italy since May, bringing temperatures unusually high for the start of summer even up in the normally cooler Alps was being cited as a likely factor.

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