30 Aug 2010

High death rate among mountain mushroom lovers

3:16 pm on 30 August 2010

At least 18 people have been killed in accidents while seeking mushrooms in the mountains and forests of northern Italy.

A combination of August thunderstorms and hot weather has led to a bumper mushroom crop.

But la Repubblica newspaper reported on Sunday that usual safety procedures were being abandoned.

"There is too much carelessness. Too many people don't give a darn about the right rules and unfortunately this is the result," Gino Comelli, head of the Alpine rescue service in northwest Italy's Valle di Fassa, told the newspaper.

La Repubblica said 17 people have died in nine days - six in 48 hours - mostly from sliding off steep, damp slopes in the northern mountains.

It said another person has been missing for more than a week.

The Ansa news agency said a man who had been hunting mushrooms was found dead on Sunday in the Alpine region of Valtellina.