Gianpaolo bottacin, a local Civil Protection official was quoted by ANSA as saying that the toll was provided. However, he stressed that the situation was still evolving and that 15 people could be missing.
The National Alpine and Cave Rescue Corps tweeted late in the evening a number that could be used to contact family and friends in the event of "failure return from possible excursions to the glacier".
According to Walter Milan, a Corps spokesperson, rescuers checked the license plates in the lot to see if there were any unaccounted persons. This could have taken hours.
It is located in the Marmolada mountains, northeastern Italy. People ski there in winter. In recent years, however, the glacier has been rapidly melting.
Experts from Italy's CNR research center (which has a polar science institute) say that the glacier will cease to exist in the next 25-30 year.
Experts from the U.N. have identified the Mediterranean basin as a "climate-change hot spot" that is likely to experience heat waves, water shortages and other adverse consequences. It is shared by northern Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East.
Italian state television reported that Luigi Felicetti, an exhausted rescuer, said, "We saw dead people and huge chunks of rock, ice, and ice."
Milan stated that it was not possible to immediately determine the nationalities or ages for the deceased.
Authorities said that two of the survivors were in grave condition.
According to local media site ildolomiti.it, the fast-moving avalanche "came in with a roar that could be heard far away."
Temporarily the helicopter search and rescue missions for missing or victims was stopped while rescuers assessed the possibility that more glaciers could be broken off. Walter Cainelli reported to state television after he conducted a rescue mission with his search dog.
Rescuers reported that ice blocks were still falling. A light drizzle began to fall in the early evening.
The SUEM dispatch, which is based near Veneto, stated that 18 people were located above the area where ice struck and would be evacuated to the Alpine rescue corps.
According to emergency services, some of the people who made the trek to the spot where the avalanche barreled through were bound together with rope.
Milan stated that some hikers may be able to descend the peak by themselves.
SUEM stated that the avalanche was a "pouring of snow, ice, and rock." This is known as a serac or pinnacle ice.
Marmolada, also known as the "queen" of the Dolomites, rises to about 3,300m (11,000 feet) and is the highest peak in the eastern range of Italian Alps. It offers spectacular views of other Alpine peaks.
In a tweet, the Alpine rescue service stated that the segment was broken near Punta Rocca (Rock Point), along the route normally used to reach the summit.
It was not immediately clear what caused the ice section to split and rush down the peak’s slope. The intense heat wave that gripped Italy in June seemed to be a factor.
According to Sky TG24 news, "The glacier's partial melt was clearly caused by the temperatures of these days," Maurizio Fugatti (president of Trento Province which borders Marmolada), said.
Milan said that the tragedy of Sunday was not caused by high heat. It rose to unusually high levels (50 F) at Marmolada's highest point in recent days.
Milan stated that there are many factors that could play a role. He said that avalanches are unpredictable and that heat's effect on glaciers is even harder to predict.
Milan made separate comments to Italian state TV, calling the current temperatures "extreme heat" at the peak. It's clearly an abnormal situation.
According to rescue services, the injured were flown by helicopter to hospitals in Trentino-Alto Adige or Veneto.
Just as in other disasters in Italy, the prosecution opened an investigation to determine if there were any signs of wrongdoing in connection to the avalanche.