'Miracle' as 10 pulled alive from avalanche horror

Tracy FergusonJan 22, 2017

On Friday, another five people who were reported missing following avalanches elsewhere in the Abruzzo region were found dead, the Civil Protection Department said.

It was not clear if the quakes triggered the avalanche, but emergency responders said the force of the massive snow slide collapsed a wing of the hotel that faced the mountain and rotated another off its foundation, pushing it downhill.

Penne: Two young children were among eight people pulled alive on Friday from the ruins of an Italian mountain hotel, almost two days after it was buried under a devastating avalanche.

Beside the 10 people located on Friday, there had been two more survivors on the previous day - two men, who were outside the hotel when the avalanche hit and were able to launch the first SOS call.

The death toll rose to four after rescuers found the body of two women in the rubble.

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About 30 people are believed to have been in the Hotel Rigopiano, a luxury ski resort and spa in the Gran Sasso mountains 155 miles northeast of Rome, when the avalanche hit Wednesday afternoon.

Rossano Di Luzio, the Director of the Pescara Hospital where survivors have been taken, said: "The medical condition of the survivors is good". They are being flown by helicopter to local hospitals.

Two more people were rescued Saturday.

Earlier estimates had put the number missing at between 11 and 20.

Workers have been clearing a 9km road to bring in heavier equipment but it can only handle one-way traffic.

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Meters-high piles of snow piled up in the central Italian area after days of snowfall earlier in the week that blocked roads and left numerous guests unable to leave before the avalanche.

The two men and two women were extracted from the shattered ruins of Hotel Rigopiano overnight after hours of painstaking digging by firemen, who were having to move cautiously for fear the buried air pockets might collapse.

The first rescuers on the scene arrived on skis early on Thursday morning, while firefighters were dropped in by helicopter.

The region, which has been blanketed by heavy snowfall, was rocked by four strong earthquakes on Wednesday, though it wasn't clear if they set off the avalanches. The snow plow scheduled for midafternoon never arrived, and the avalanche hit sometime around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Search and rescue teams had maintained the hope of finding survivors even though the avalanche dumped up to five meters (17 feet) of snow on the hotel.

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