March 24, 2017

Missing in Italy avalanche: 'We've heard no replies, no voices'

20 January 2017, 12:54 | Ella Tate

'Many dead' after avalanche hits Italian hotel

Fears for up to 30 people after avalanche hits Italy hotel

Rescue squads, dealing with tremors and blizzard conditions, struggled to reach the hotel, trekking five miles in skis and showshoes to the scene. Evacuating any survivors by airlift remains a slow but steady effort.

Italy's Vigili del Fuoco fire and rescue service said at least three bodies have been recovered.

Authorities earlier said that they believed 20 tourists and seven staff had been in the hotel when the avalanche struck.

"Some walls were knocked down", a text from another victim reportedly said, the AP reported, citing the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Here's what we know so far about the incident. And after the avalanche, it was inundated with messages from people seeking information about the hotel.

Earthquakes hit the mountainous region on Wednesday, including one of 5.7 magnitude, but it was not immediately clear if they triggered the avalanche, Italian media said. His wife and children were still in the hotel.

Hotel Rigopiano is a small ski hotel located on the eastern side of the lower slopes of the Gran Sasso mountain.

The avalanche may have been triggered by an natural disaster, as that region of Italy has seen several quakes in recent weeks. "That's what I have been asking since yesterday", Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told the AFP news agency.

However, a snowstorm and blocked routes made access to the hotel hard until they finally made a break-through this morning. Local mayor, Ilario Lacchetta, deemed the avalanche to be of "huge dimensions".

"He said the hotel was submerged and to call rescue crews", Mr. Marcella said, adding that his calls to the police and the local prefect's office went unheeded. Italian media say the avalanche covered the three-story hotel in the central region of Abruzzo, on Wednesday evening.

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