30 people missing as avalanche buries Italian hotel

Tracy FergusonJan 20, 2017

People are feared dead after an avalanche buried a mountain hotel in an earthquake-hit region of central Italy.

The mass of cascading snow slammed into the three-story Hotel Rigopiano in darkness, burying the building.

One male survivor said he walked outdoors to retrieve an item from the family auto just before the avalanche hit Hotel Rigopiano.

Rescuers have attempted to call out to survivors at the hotel, but no-one has responded, news agency earthquakes-rock-central-italy_cea61cbf-9c20-40d0-98a1-5f08db0ac70c.html">Ansa reported. Media have reported that two people were rescued.

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The earthquakes in central Italy on Wednesday shut down schools and transit systems in Rome while aftershocks continued to worsen conditions.

Ambulances have been blocked by a more than two foot wall of snow about six miles away from the Hotel Rigopiano, in the Italian village of Farindola. His wife and two children were still in the devastated hotel, he said.

"It's more like a pile of rubble than a hotel", said Antonio Crocetta, of the Alpine Rescue squad.

Italian media are reporting that some guests at the Hotel Rigopiano managed to send text messages after the avalanche trapped them inside the hotel. The roof of the hotel has partly collapsed. The first mountain rescue teams, arriving on skis, didn't reach the hotel until 4:00am local time-several hours after the avalanche had struck.

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The mountainous region of central Italy has been struck by a series of quakes since August that destroyed historic centers in dozens of towns and hamlets.

While the hotel was built to be earthquake-proof, there is no protection against avalanches. "The avalanche came down and completely buried me but I was able to get out".

Italy's premier is urging Italian authorities to redouble efforts to reach people isolated by new earthquakes and unusually heavy snow.

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