‘There are many dead’: Avalanche buries hotel in central Italy

January 19, 2017 11:00 am
An avalanche buried a four-star spa hotel in a mountainous earthquake-hit region of central , leaving at least 30 people missing, authorities said.
The civil protection agency said that they were working to get rescue vehicles to the Hotel Rigopiano through roads covered in snow, joining initial rescue efforts overnight by alpine rescue teams.
The ANSA agency quoted a rescuer as saying that there were fatalities, but details weren’t immediately available.

Rescuers make their way to the Hotel Rigopiano in the town of Farindola on the Gran Sasso mountain in the central Abruzzo region of Italy which was buried by an avalanche. Photo / Facebook

ANSA also quoted a survivor as saying that he was saved because he had gone outside to his car to get something when the avalanche hit.
The survivor, identified as 38-year-old Giampaolo Parete, told doctors that his wife and two children were buried in the avalanche.

Italian media said that the avalanche covered the three-storey hotel in the central region of Abruzzo on Wednesday.He said that the car hadn’t been buried and that he waited there for rescuers.
The hotel is about 45 kilometres from the coastal city of Pescara. Earthquakes hit the region yesterday, including one with a 5.7 magnitude, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the temblors triggered the avalanche.
Mountain rescue teams reached the hotel by skis around 4am local time, SKY TG24 reported. Video footage showed rescuers with shovels digging through a wall of snow, and at least one man being led through the cleared path.
An ambulance was blocked several kilometres from the hotel, according to SKY, which also said that snowfall was so heavy that snow plows have had trouble clearing the road to the hotel.

This photo taken from a video shows show piles of snow and rubble cascading down the stairway into the foyer of the hotel Rigopiano in Farindola. Photo / AP

Other video footage showed rescuers entering the hotel, with piles of snow and rubble cascading down the stairs into the entryway. Rescue team video also showed huge piles of filthy snow and debris piled up inside the hotel’s corridors, having slammed through the outer walls of the building. The audio is completely silent.
On its website, Italian news agency ANSA quoted the head of a rescue squad that reached the hotel as saying “there are many dead”.
ANSA also quoted rescuers as saying they have been calling out to survivors, but no one has responded. But media have reported that two people had been rescued.
The mountainous region of central Italy has been struck by a series of quakes since August that destroyed historic centres in dozens of towns and hamlets.
A deadly quake in August killed nearly 300, while no one died in the strong aftershocks in October largely because population centres had already been evacuated.
In the meantime, the entire region has been hit by cold weather and buffeted by snowstorms, piling more suffering on to the hard-hit population.
People left homeless by the earlier quakes had been moved to hotels in the region, but it wasn’t immediately clear who was staying at Hotel Rigopiano, which is located in the Gran Sasso National Park.
The hotel posted on its Facebook page Wednesday morning after the first quake that its telephone lines were out.
In the hours since the report of the avalanche, users have been posting messages seeking information about the hotel.

Hotel Rigopiano in the town of Farindola on the Gran Sasso mountain in the central Abruzzo region of Italy which was buried by an avalanche today.

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