Rescue teams in the Italian Alps said Tuesday they had found eight survivors missing since a glacial avalanche killed at least seven people on Sunday.
The avalanche occurred on the Marmolada crest, the highest peak in the Dolomites at over 3,300 meters.
“When we arrived, we saw a disaster. We realized the magnitude of this enormous avalanche,” said Stefano Coter, head of the local alpine rescue team and one of the first people to reach the scene of the accident.
“We found injured people who needed help and other people who were dead,” he added.
Nicola Casagli, a geologist and avalanche expert at the University of Florence, told CBS News that the effects of a glacial avalanche are more devastating than those of a snow avalanche.
“These types of events, which are ice and debris avalanches, are impulsive, rapid, unpredictable phenomena that reach very high speeds and affect large masses,” he said. “And there’s no chance of getting to safety or anticipating the problem because by the time you spot it, you’ve already been hit.”
Officials have used drones, helicopters and cell phone signals to locate other victims.
Authorities say five people were still missing as of Tuesday morning local time.
The immediate area will remain closed to tourists for the duration of the rescue and recovery operation.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters.