The detachment of a serac caused an avalanche of ice and rocks on Sunday which swept away several roped parties climbing this glacier, the highest peak -over 3,300 meters- in the Dolomites, in the northeast of Italy. Italy.
At least seven people were killed and eight others injured. Relief continued Thursday to search for five people missing by their relatives.
According to some testimonies, hikers and guides had warned in recent weeks about the dangerousness of the glacier, weakened by global warming as well as by record temperatures recorded this year in Italy, 10°C at the top of the Marmolada the day before the tragedy. .
The high temperatures accelerated its melting and water accumulated under the ice cap, making it unstable.
“Why didn’t anyone warn on Saturday that the water was seeping under the glacier? Why didn’t they stop people from going up?” Asked Deborah Campagnano, whose sister Erika, 44, is missing. ‘call. “If someone is responsible, we will go all the way.”
For Marco Bussone, the president of the Union of Mountain Municipalities (Uncem), we must “totally rethink (the conditions of access to the mountain) after this immense tragedy”.
“Ridiculous,” retorts meteorologist Luca Mercalli. “What do we do? Barricade 4,000 alpine glaciers?”
Many mountain professionals reject this idea, which they consider to be an attack on their freedom and an ineffective measure. And in fact, even if access to the Marmolada has been prohibited since the tragedy, hikers ignore it and venture there every day, they argue.
The Italian mountaineer Nives Meroi, the first woman to have conquered ten peaks over 8,000 meters, believes that the mountain must “stay open”. With a ban, “we lose our freedom and therefore our sense of responsibility (…), the awareness of our fragility”, she pleads Wednesday in a column published by the daily La Stampa.
The Trento public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation to determine possible responsibility, but has already ruled out “the foreseeability of the event, negligence or recklessness”.
Same story with the governor of Veneto (northeast) Luca Zaia, who evokes “a tragedy as exceptional as it is unpredictable”.
– Red flags –
The president of the province of Trento, where the Marmolada is located, thinks for his part that innovations are possible.
“We are mountain people who have always known the risks. The mountain must remain open, otherwise it dies. On the other hand, we can imagine warning systems when the climatic conditions are exceptional”, he said in an interview with the daily La Repubblica.
As at sea, “red flags could be useful, as well as issuing bulletins on safety levels”.
In an interview with AFP, French glaciologist Bernard Francou also puts forward solutions.
“We must monitor them and we can do it now with modern methods and possibly alert the populations living at the foot when the danger becomes clearer. Many potentially dangerous glaciers are monitored in Switzerland by glaciologists and, in Grenoble (France), by the Institute of Environmental Geosciences (IGE)”, he notes.
Faced with the reproaches that were addressed to them online after the accident, the Alpine Rescue of Veneto, the region where the Dolomites stretch, denounced on Facebook “the condemnations on social networks, the great speeches of experts at the small week, online courts, free reviews”.
“We must instead seek to learn from this great pain and suffering of the mountain. In silence,” they replied.