A YOUNG mountaineer snapped a final grinning selfie just minutes before he was tragically killed in an avalanche in the Italian Alps.
Filippo Bari, 27, sent the picture to his family with the message "look where I am" as he was climbing Marmolada – the highest mountain in the Dolomites mountain range – with his pals.
Just 20 minutes later, a huge chunk of glacier broke off, sending a huge avalanche of ice, snow and rocks down the slope on Sunday.
At least seven hikers were killed and five people are still missing.
Hope of finding the missing climbers alive are fading due to the scale of the avalanche and the difficult conditions facing rescue teams.
Filippo, an expert mountain hiker from Italy, was identified by his family as one of the victims of the tragedy.
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His brother, Andrea, said his family always told him to be careful in the mountains, "above all in these temperatures".
Andrea said his Filippo lived in Malo, Vicenza province, with his partner, Jelena, and four-year-old son, Filippo.
He said his brother sent the selfie of him smiling in a helmet and sunglasses in front of the glacier 20 minutes before the avalanche.
Andrea told Italian state TV: "He passed away doing what he loved.
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"Filippo was a great lover of the mountains and nature in general.
"He had already done several high-altitude outings, always accompanied by experienced people and with all the necessary equipment."
Filippo had been planning to climb Monte Rosa, which straddles Italy and Switzerland, this week.
The deluge of ice fell on a route usually taken by hikers to reach the summit of the mountain, the Alpine rescue said.
A local official said the part that broke loose was around 200 metres wide, 80 metres high and 60 metres deep – and plummeted down the mountain at nearly 200 miles per hour.
The region has been hit with a heatwave in recent weeks and the Dolomite summit has reached record temperatures – possibly causing the glacier collapse.
The incident led to the evacuation of the Marmolada mountain in the Italian Alps as officials warned there was a risk of further collapses.
The Czech foreign ministry said two of its nationals were among those who lost their lives.
And at least three of the dead were Italians, authorities said
Of the eight injured, two Germans, a 67-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman, were said to be in a serious condition.
On Tuesday, rescue teams sent helicopters and drones up for a second day.
"Operations on the ground will only be carried out to recover any remains discovered by the drones, to ensure rescuers' safety," the Trentino Alpine Rescue Service said on Tuesday.
Relatives of hikers reported missing gathered at the town of Canazei, where recovered remains were placed in a make-shift morgue at a gym.
Helicopter pilot Fausto Zambelli said some belongings had been spotted from the air – but it was not yet clear "if that means there are victims there, or if they belong to old hiking expeditions".
He said hope of finding survivors under the ice was slim, but not entirely gone.
"If there are 'pockets' (of air), there's still hope. Time is obviously short, but we still hope to find someone alive," he said.
The Trento public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation to determine the cause of the avalanche as the families of those caught up in the tragedy demanded answers.
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Italian news agency ANSA quoted the sister of one missing Italian as saying: "Why did nobody warn on Saturday that water had filtered beneath the glacier?
"Why did they not stop the people from going climbing?"
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