Six Dead, a Dozen Missing After Serac Collapse in Dolomites — VIDEOS

Co-credit: KrisAnnapurna

A falling serac killed at least six people today on 3,343m Marmolada, the highest peak in the Italian Dolomites. Another dozen are missing.

The tragedy occurred after large chunks of the Marmolada Glacier broke loose at two different points. It triggered an ice avalanche about 300m wide that swept across the normal ascent route, affecting an estimated two dozen weekend climbers. Many observers in the area filmed the event.

 

The collapse occurred at 2 pm below Punta Rocca, at 3,250m. Shortly before, the temperature registered a record 10.3ºC at the summit. The avalanche of ice and rock fell on the stretch between Pian dei Fiacconi and Punta Penia, La Repubblica reported.

Evacuation: further falls expected

A rescue operation began immediately, with five helicopters and ground searches with dogs, despite the risk of further avalanches. So far, six bodies have been recovered from the chaos of ice blocks. The search continues for other victims.

Preliminary estimates suggest that 10 to 12 people remain missing. At least eight others have been rescued and brought by air to nearby hospitals, Italy’s National Mountain Rescue Corps reported. Two of the victims had serious injuries.

Everyone in the area, including those staying in mountain huts, has been evacuated before further falls occur.

 

In winter, Marmolada is easily accessible from two nearby ski resorts. In summer, an easy glacier trek up its north side draws crowds of climbers.

Temperatures have been remarkably high in the central European ranges of late. The summit of Marmolada basked in a record +10ºC on Saturday. Today, it edged even a shade higher. This follows a remarkably dry winter, which has left the alpine glaciers bare of snow. The exposed, hard, fossil ice makes the climbs particularly hazardous.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive,and a published author.