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100 Feared Dead in Russian Avalanche - 2002-09-22

Authorities in Southern Russia fear the death toll from Friday's avalanche in North Ossetia may exceed 100. A massive rescue effort continues, but officials say there is little hope of finding any more survivors.

Hundreds of rescuers are spending a second day picking through ice in a region near the border with the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, in hopes of finding anyone who may have survived the avalanche's destructive path.

But by early afternoon Sunday, officials said there is now little chance anyone else will be found alive.

The exact number of survivors much like casualties is not yet known. And at least 80 people are reported still missing amid the mass of ice, mud and debris.

The fate of popular Russian actor Sergei Bodrov and nearly 50 of his crew has still not been determined.

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies quote Russia's emergency minister as saying rising temperatures may cause further melting, posing still another threat.

The disaster occurred when a chunk of glacier broke off from high above and roared down the mountain at a reported speed of more than 100 kilometers an hour.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier pledged to provide aid for the devastated region. Some of that aid has already come in the form of Russian rescue specialists.