Italian state television RAI said the death toll was six, but the death toll could not be immediately confirmed. It was not immediately clear how many hikers might be missing.
The National Alpine and Cave Rescue Corps tweeted that the search for the affected area of Marmolada Peak involved at least five helicopters and rescue dogs.
“There are five dead among those affected by the detachment of the serac, says the tweet from the emergency services, referring to a technical term for a glacier peak. “There are eight injured, two of them in serious condition” .
The SUEM Expedition Service, which is based in the nearby Veneto region, said 18 people who were above the area where the ice struck will be evacuated by the Alpine Rescue Corps.
The dispatch service said the avalanche consisted of “a dumping of snow, ice and rock”.
Marmolada, rising to around 3,300 meters (about 11,000 feet), is the highest peak in the Eastern Dolomites.
“A rock break caused a crevasse to open in the glacier, leaving around 15 people involved, emergency dispatchers tweeted.
The Alpine Rescue Service said in a tweet that the segment came to an end near Punta Rocca (Rock Point), “along the route normally used to reach the summit”.
The cause of the ice section breaking off and falling down the slope of the peak was not immediately clear. But the intense heat wave that has hit Italy since late June could be a factor, said Walter Milan, spokesman for the Alpine Rescue Service on state television RAI.
“The heat is unusual,” Milan said, noting that temperatures in recent days on the peak had exceeded 10C (50F). “It’s extreme heat” for the peak, Milan said. is clearly something abnormal.”
The injured were airlifted to several hospitals in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions, according to the emergency services.
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