MILAN At least 18 mushroom-lovers have been killed in accidents while hunting for their favorite fungi in the mountains and forests of northern Italy.
Mountain rescuers say eager mushroom seekers are abandoning safety procedures as they don camouflage and hunt in darkness to protect coveted troves, la Repubblica newspaper reported on Sunday.
"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.
Seventeen people have died in nine days -- six in 48 hours alone -- mostly from sliding off steep, damp slopes in the northern mountains, la Repubblica said in a story headlined "the massacre of the mushroom hunters."
Another person has been missing for more than a week, it said.
Ansa news agency said a man who had been hunting mushrooms was found dead on Sunday in the Alpine region of Valtellina.
A combination of August thunderstorms and hot weather has led to a bumper mushroom crop that has drawn the first hunters of what is expected to be a boom season.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Angus MacSwan)