At least six people have been killed after a glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps

ROME, July 3 (Reuters) – At least six people were killed and eight injured when parts of a mountain glacier collapsed amid record temperatures in the Italian Alps on Sunday, local officials said.

The Trento provincial government said rescue operations were underway after a large “snow avalanche” involving hikers, adding that “higher numbers” were likely.

The avalanche occurred on Marmolada at over 3,300m, the highest mountain in the Dolomites, which crosses the Trento and Veneto regions in the eastern Italian Alps.

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Veneto president Luca Zaya said the injured were taken to hospitals in the nearby cities of Belluno, Treviso, Trento and Bolzano.

The Alpine Rescue Unit said the largest avalanche occurred near Punta Rocca, a route regularly used by hikers and mountaineers to reach the summit.

“Fortunately the weather is good, but there is still a risk of avalanches,” a spokesman said.

Helicopters and dogs are trying to find survivors.

Zaya said Italy’s early summer heat wave touched 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) in Marmolada on Saturday.

Rising average temperatures have caused Marmolada Glacier, like many others around the world, to shrink steadily in recent decades.

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Gavin Jones reports; Editing by Catherine Evans

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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