Italian Rescue Teams Battle Weather Conditions to Save Avalanche Survivors

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Italian rescue works have hiked across mountains on skis to reach a hotel devastated by an avalanche on Thursday morning.

The four star hotel, Hotel Rigopiano, in central Italy location makes it hard for heavy machinery to reach due to severe weather and the region being hit by multiple earthquakes.  Electricity and phone lines in the region have been knocked out of action.

Thirty people are believed to be trapped inside.  So far three bodies have been recovered.

Due to the remoteness of the hotel, rescue workers didn’t get to the scene for several hours.

According to firefighters the destruction was intense wiping out several structures and trees.  Only part of the hotel remains standing the rest has been swept down the mountain side.  Lucu Cari, firefighter spokesman said, “There are mattresses that are hundreds of meters (yards) away from where the building was.”

The Hotel is situated in the Abruzzo region and is 30 miles from the coastal city of Pescara.  It sits at an altitude of 1200 metres.  The area has seen bad weather, with heavy snowfalls blocking roads and covering the buildings.  It was hit by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday.

Video

Video shot by rescue teams in parts of the hotel that are still standing and accessible show snow and debris piled up in corridors, stairwells, and the indoor pool area.  The snow has slammed through the outer wall of the building.

Other videos shot from helicopter show rescue workers digging holes trying to gain access.

Premier Paolo Gentiloni said, “I ask everyone if possible to multiply their efforts.  I ask politicians to show sobriety respecting the difficulty of the situation and the commitment of civil and military crews who are responding.”

Gentiloni has faced criticism over the incident.  Risks of further avalanches have not been ruled out.

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