Four climbers die after slab of ice detaches from mountainside in northern Italy
Four climbers have died after a slab of ice detached from a mountainside near Italy's northern border with Switzerland, Alpine emergency crews said.
A fifth climber survived the incident on Thursday in Gressony-Saint-Jean, in the Val d'Aosta region.
The head of the Val d'Aosta Alpine rescue service, Adriano Favre, told RAI state television the climbers were probably experienced given the peak was a difficult one to climb.
He suggested a sudden rise in temperatures on Wednesday might have caused the chunk of ice to melt enough for it to detach.
The news comes just four days after four snowboarders died in an avalanche near the French Alps resort of Tignes.
The avalanche - about 100 metres wide and 400 metres long - struck the mountain about 2,100 metres up in an off-piste sector known as Toviere. The area is popular for its extensive slopes and stunning views.
Initial reports sowed confusion that more skiers had been caught in the disaster, but authorities said the victims had been accidently entered into the skiing database twice.
"We lament the four deceased victims and we think there will be only four It was an avalanche of a huge scale," said Albertville Deputy Prefect Nicolas Martrenchard.
All the fatalities were understood to be French.