Deadly Glacier Chunk Was Size of Apartment Building

And it was reportedly moving at 200mph
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 5, 2022 2:15 AM CDT
Detached Part of Dolomites Glacier Moved at 200mph
This undated image made available Monday, July 4, 2022, by the press office of the Autonomous Province of Trento shows the glacier in the Marmolada range of Italy's Alps near Trento from which a large chunk has broken loose Sunday.   (Autonomous Province of Trento via AP)

Thunderstorms on Monday hampered the search for more than a dozen hikers who remained unaccounted for a day after a huge chunk of an Alpine glacier in Italy's Dolomite mountains broke off, sending an avalanche of ice, snow, and rocks down the slope. Officials put the known death toll at seven. Per numbers provided by regional leader Maurizio Fugatti, 13 people remained unaccounted for by Monday afternoon, 10 of them thought to be Italians. "We were contacted by families because these people didn't return home," said Fugatti. In the mountain's parking lot, four cars remained whose occupants hadn't been traced—two cars had license plates from the Czech Republic, one vehicle was from Germany, and the fourth was from Hungary.

The detached portion of the Marmolada glacier was massive, estimated at 650 feet wide, more than 250 feet tall, and 200 feet deep, reports the AP. Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia likened the avalanche to an "apartment building (sized) block of ice with debris and Cyclopean masses of rock." What exactly caused a pinnacle of the glacier to break off and thunder down the slope at a speed estimated by experts at nearly 200mph wasn't immediately known. But high temperatures were widely cited as a factor.

One of the Italians who was killed was Filippo Bari. The 28-year-old snapped a selfie with the Marmolada glacier in the background only minutes before the avalanche, his brother, Andrea, told state TV in Canazei. Although an expert mountain hiker, his brother said his family always told him to be careful in the mountains, "above all in these temperatures.'' (Alpine rescuers said that the temperature at the glacier's altitude last week topped 50 degrees, when usually it should hover around freezing at this time of year.) He said the selfie was sent only 20 minutes before the avalanche and that his brother, who had a partner and a 4-year-old son, was smiling. "He passed away doing what he loved."

(More avalanche stories.)

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