The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Tuesday that Sunday’s ice avalanche in the Italian Alps resulted in the death of two Czech citizens.
The two individuals were touring the mountain region together, the Czech News Agency reports.
Rescue teams in the Italian Alps said Tuesday they found eight survivors who had been missing since a glacial avalanche killed at least seven people on Sunday.
The avalanche happened on the Marmolada ridge, the highest peak in the Dolomites, standing more than 3,300 meters.
“When we arrived, we saw a disaster. We realized the dimensions of this enormous avalanche,” said Stefano Coter, head of the local alpine rescue team and one of the first people to reach the scene.
“We found injured people in need of help and other people who were dead,” he added.
Nicola Casagli, a geologist and avalanche expert at Florence University, told CBS News that the effects of a glacial avalanche were more devastating than a snow avalanche.
“These types of events, which are ice and debris avalanches, are impulsive, rapid, unpredictable phenomena, reaching very high speeds and involving large masses,” he said. “And there is no chance of getting to safety or perceiving the problem in advance, because by the time you perceive it, you’ve already been hit.”
Officials have been using drones, helicopters and cellphone signals to locate more victims.
Authorities say five people were still unaccounted for as of Tuesday morning local time.
The immediate area remains closed to tourists through the duration of the rescue and recovery operation.
Much of Italy has been baking in an early-summer heatwave and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers more unpredictable.
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