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Italy: Fly over the melting Mont Blanc glacier at risk of collapse

Plampincieux, Italy: Officials have evacuated part of an alpine valley on the border with France because of the threat that part of a melting glacier as large as a cathedral might break apart and collapse.

The alarm was raised on Wednesday afternoon when experts in helicopters noted that the Planpincieux glacier, which rests at an altitude of about 2,800 metres in the Ferret Valley in the Mont Blanc massif, was slipping at about 80 cm a day. A recent heat wave had created a layer of water under the glacier, which is made up of about 500 cubic metres of ice - roughly the size of the Milan cathedral - making it more prone to a break.

About 75 residents and tourists in homes or hotels in hamlets in the threatened part of the valley were evacuated and police threw up roadblocks to prevent others from entering. The threatened part of the valley was divided into a "red zone" that could take a direct hit and a "yellow zone" that could suffer from displacement of air and other secondary effects.
Many tourists in parts of the valley not threatened by an eventual collapse preferred to leave anyway, local officials said. A similar evacuation took place last September when the same glacier showed signs of instability and lasted several days.

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