Italy evacuates Mont Blanc amid fears of glacier collapse
Gary Parkinson

Italian authorities have closed roads and ordered the evacuation of mountain huts on Mont Blanc, as experts warn that a huge part of a glacier could collapse imminently. 

It is feared 250,000 cubic meters of ice – five times the volume of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris – could break away from the Planpincieux glacier, below the Grandes Jorasses peak on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif. 

The Valle d'Aosta regional government acted after analysis from the Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation) earlier this week. Observations in August and September suggested sections of the glacier were shifting at a speed of 50 to 60 centimeters a day. 

(Credit: Google Maps)

(Credit: Google Maps)

Stefano Miserocchi, the mayor of nearby Courmayeur, said the warning "does not concern built-up areas or even tourist facilities," but added: "These phenomena once again show how the mountain is going through a period of major change due to climate factors and, therefore, it is particularly vulnerable.”

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte said: "This is an alarm before which we cannot be indifferent in the illusion that it doesn't regard me, you, that it is something far away in time or in space. Instead, it should shake all of us and mobilize us."

The Planpincieux glacier is closely monitored as it is particularly sensitive to climatic change, due to its position – the Mont Blanc massif is the highest point in Western Europe. Even so, experts say it is impossible to predict precisely when the glacier will collapse. 

(Video credit: Local Team / AFP)