(CNN) — Dozens of people have been evacuated from a valley in northern Italy amid fears that a section of ice the size of a football field could collapse from a Mount Blanc glacier.
About 75 people, including 60 tourists, have left the Ferret Valley in the Alpine region of Valle d'Aosta.
Stefano Miserocchi, the mayor of Courmayeur, also closed a main road in the valley late Thursday, according to the websites of the affected villages.
At a press conference on Friday, Valerio Segor, the region's director of natural risk management, said the evacuation could not be delayed.
"The measure could not be postponed following a survey of the glacier of Planpincieux that shows a section of 500,000 square meters of ice that could rapidly detach from the rock," Segor said.
It's feared a section of 500,000 square meters of the Planpincieux glacier could detach.
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
Located in the Mont Blanc massif, the glacier has been under surveillance since 2012 because of the effects of climate change, according to Fabrizio Troilo, from the Montagna Sicura (Secure Mountain) Foundation, which is charged with monitoring the glacier.
The glacier is classified as a "temperate" one as opposed to "cold" because it has water between the mass of ice and mountain.
"The fracture of the glacier is very deep and the 500,000 square meter body is totally detached from the underlying rock," Troilo said. "The moving speed is much higher. We can see this from photographic monitoring, moving more than one meter a day."
Hot temperatures in late July and early August followed by a brief cold snap that caused snow in higher elevations this week have exacerbated the problem, causing a fracture between the rock and the mass of ice.
Troilo said that the potential for collapse started again in April but has increased in recent weeks, with the section of ice going through a "very rapid evolution" in the last 15 days.
Last summer, surveillance efforts were stepped up with the addition of probes and other technical tools to better monitor the glacier.
Miserocchi said the village of Courmayeur and the rest of Mount Blanc remain "perfectly safe," adding that tourists can still enjoy their Alpine vacations.