AT least six people have been killed and ten more are still missing after an avalanche struck the Italian Alps.
Reports suggest at least eight further people have been injured after a glacier collapsed in Norther Italy, which sent large chunks of ice towards a popular hiking spot.
The incident has led to the evacuation of the Marmolada mountain in the Italian Alps as officials warn there is a risk of further collapses.
Five helicopters and additional dog units have been sent to the area to search for survivors, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
An eyewitness told the newspaper: “We heard a very loud noise, then we saw the snow and ice avalanche.”
Local authorities have confirmed rescue operations are in progress after the “ice avalanche” fell on tourists, and added there was likely to be a “heavy toll”.
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The avalanche took place on the Marmolada, the highest mountain in the Dolomites region of the Italian Alps.
The deluge of ice fell on a route usually taken by hikers to reach the summit of the mountain, the Alpine rescue said.
“Fortunately the weather conditions are good but the danger is that there could be further collapses,” a spokesperson said.
The region has been hit with a heatwave in recent weeks and the Dolomite summit has reached record temperatures – possibly causing the glacier collapse.
“We saw dead [people] and enormous chunks of ice, rock,” mountain rescuer Luigi Felicetti told Italian state TV.
The injured climbers have been flown to hospitals in the region, and emergency services have said at least two are in grave condition.