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Rescuers in Italy are looking for missing mountain climbers after an avalanche

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Rescuers are still looking for a number of mountain climbers who are missing in Italy's northeastern Dolomites. A large chunk of ice broke off an Alpine glacier and triggered an avalanche that has killed at least six people and injured at least eight others. Adam Raney reports from Rome.

(SOUNDBITE OF AVALANCHE)

ADAM RANEY, BYLINE: The avalanche was captured in dramatic video footage as it swept down the mountainside. Several people were killed immediately in the rush of ice, rock and debris that moved with ferocious speed through an area known as the Marmolada.

Rescuers were shaken by what they saw as they rushed to the area in helicopters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LUIGI FELICETTI: (Through interpreter) It was a crazy scene where the bodies were found because there were blocks of ice and enormous rocks everywhere as we started to look for people.

RANEY: That's Luigi Felicetti, an Alpine rescuer from the area speaking to Italian state television after they paused their search on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FELICETTI: (Through interpreter) We had to suspend the search in the afternoon because of the risk presented by hot temperatures.

RANEY: Temperatures in the area have spiked above 50 degrees in recent days, well above average, and will be high again today, complicating efforts to keep searching in the area of the avalanche. Speaking to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, climate scientist Renato Colucci said the crack in the glacier is directly related to climate change. Climate scientists say the glacier, the largest in northeastern Italy's Dolomites, will likely disappear within 20 to 30 years. It has already decreased greatly in recent years, although people still ski the glacier in the winter. A spokesman for the Alpine Mountain and Cave Rescue Corps told The Associated Press that high heat was perhaps only one factor of many that caused the glacier to crack. The Mediterranean basin, including Italy, Southern Europe and Northern Africa, has been labeled a climate change hotspot by U.N. scientists.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Italian).

RANEY: On Italian TV and across Social Media. Authorities are sharing phone numbers for families and friends of people missing in the area to call. There are trauma therapists providing counseling at the base camp where families have gathered. For NPR News, I'm Adam Raney in Rome.

(SOUNDBITE OF NITSUA'S "SUMMER TWILIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adam Raney