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Marmolada death toll up to seven, many still missing

Heat wave linked to glacier collapse, PM visits disaster zone

(ANSA) - ROME, JUL 4 - The death toll of Sunday's Marmolada glacier disaster climbed to seven on Monday after the body of another victim was found, although it is feared this number will rise with many people still unaccounted for.
    Eight people are injured after a massive chunk of the glacier in northern Italy broke away, causing a deadly avalanche of snow, ice and rock.
    The number of people to have been reported as missing by relatives, meanwhile, has dropped to 14 after four people were tracked down safe and well.
    The search for survivors had to be suspended on Monday due to heavy rain.
    Rescuers had worked throughout the night looking for survivors with the help of drones.
    The bad weather meant that Premier Mario Draghi had to get to Canazei, in the northern province of Trento, where rescue operations are being coordinated from, by car rather than helicopter as originally planned.
    Experts have linked the current heat wave that has hit Italy to the disaster, saying it has made the glacier unstable, with temperatures reaching 10°C at 3,000m above sea level, something that was unthinkable only a few years ago so early in summer.
    Scientists say more frequent and intense heat waves are a result of climate change caused by human activity.
    "Temperatures have been well above normal levels for days and last winter there was not much snow, which basically no longer protects the glacier," said Renato Colucci of the National Research Council's Polar Science Institute (Cnr-Isp).
    "This probably produced a large quantity of melted water at the base of that piece of glacier".
    Pope Francis directly linked the disaster to the climate crisis.
    "#Letspraytogehther for the victims of the collapse on the #Marmolada glacier and for their families," the pontiff said on his Italian-language Twitter account.
    "The tragedies that we are experiencing with climate change must push us to urgently seek new paths that are respectful of people and of nature".
    Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday called Province of Trento President Maurizio Fugatti and Veneto Governor Luca Zaia to express his sympathy to the victims' families and support for the communities affected, the head of State's office said.


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