- At least 30 people are now feared dead after an avalanche struck a mountain hotel in Italy
- Most of those buried in the rubble are guests and staff of the hotel
- So far, only two survivors have been reported; one of them was outside when the disaster happened
A series of earthquake on Wednesday morning has triggered a massive avalanche in the region of Abruzzo, central Italy; burying a luxury mountain hotel along with its more than 20 guests and 7 staff.
At least 30 people are now feared dead and buried in a mountain of snow although local authorities have yet to confirm the official death toll. Most of the casualties are guests at Hotel Rigopiano; a ski hotel located in the town of Farindola on the Gran Sasso mountain.
Reuters said in its report, citing local media, that at least three bodies have been recovered as rescuers struggled to find any survivors buried in the rubble amid heavy and deep snow.
There were no signs of life, rescue workers have said, except for the two survivors who were lucky to be outside when the disaster happened.
“The hotel is almost completely destroyed. We’ve called out but we’ve heard no replies, no voices,” said rescuer Antonio Crocetta who spoke with Reuters. “We’re digging and looking for people.”
One of the two survivors, Giampiero Parete, said he was alive because he went out to get something from his car.
“I was covered by the snow but I managed to get out. The car was not submerged and I waited for the rescuers to arrive,” Parete narrated.
However, his wife and two kids were not as lucky. They are believed to be among those buried in the snow.
Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has called for national unity and said the country was caught in an “unprecedented vice of earthquakes and heavy snows simultaneously.”
Avalanche warnings have now been issued across the region following the tragedy. Four earthquakes have been recorded to have hit the area within four hours before the avalanche struck.