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7 killed, 8 injured, 15 missing as glacier shoots off avalanche in Italian Alps

The crash occurred due to a collapse of the Marmolada glacier in the Italian Dolomite Alps, in the north-east. There were at least two roped mountaineering teams on the avalanche's path. Seven people were crushed to death, eight others were injured and 15 people are missing. They were Italian, German, Czech and Romanian. Rescue operation is continuing.

Helicopters are reportedly using the DaisyBell system of blast for controlled release of vulnerable ice cliffs to prevent further avalanches in order to provide safety to the ongoing rescue operation down in the valley.

ROME, July 4: An avalanche killed seven people, many of them mountaineers, in a rare occurrence in the Italian glaciers on Monday. Eight others were injured and 15 people are missing. Helicopters and drones are being used to scan the Alps glacier for those missing. Three of the dead are Italians and two are mountain guides. Other bodies are mutilated. The injured have been taken to Belluno, Treviso and Trento hospitals.

The crash occurred due to the collapse of the Marmolada glacier, the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomite Alps, in the north-east. "An avalanche of snow, ice and rock which in its path hit the access road when there were several roped parties, some of which were swept away. The definitive number of mountaineers involved is not yet known," an emergency services spokeswoman told BBC.

There were at least two teams of rope mountaineers of six climbers each. There were Italian, German, Czech and Romanian nationals. The avalanche was shooting down to the valley with a roar, and swept away the climbers, an eyewitness told ANSA news agency.

The rescue helicopters are reportedly using the DaisyBell system of blast for controlled release of vulnerable ice cliffs to prevent further avalanches and help a safe rescue operation in the valley. It is an alternative to helicopter bombing with explosives to control slide paths. The new system uses a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen.

Such avalanches were not common in the Alps. Rising temperature could be the reason but an inquiry has been ordered to find out what exactly caused the avalanche.

An abnormal rise in atmospheric temperature, or climate change, is said to have caused the ripping of the avalanche as the glacier surface would have melted. A high temperature of 10 deg Celsius (50 deg Fahrenheit) was recorded at the summit. Glaciers are receding, it has been noted by researchers for quite long. It is common for ice blocks to break off from thawing cliffs.

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