Italy avalanche: Survivors found alive inside buried hotel


Rome, Italy (NBC News) — Rescuers were working to free eight survivors Friday who had endured an almost two-day ordeal buried under 16 feet of snow in the ruins of an avalanche-hit Italian hotel.

Earlier, a young boy and a woman were freed by emergency workers. In emotional scenes captured on video, crews were seen working around a deep hole with what appears to be a tiled floor beneath it.

The rescuers erupted into a chorus of cheers and cries of “Bravo!” when the child was brought to the surface after being trapped for more than 40 hours.

After the woman was pulled out, she spoke urgently to the workers, and appeared to point back down towards the rubble. Her speech was not picked up clearly by the cameras.

Both of the survivors shown being rescued were conscious and displayed no obvious sign of serious injuries.

Hope had dimmed early Friday when rescue teams announced they been unable to locate any survivors buried in the remains of the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola after an avalanche struck on Wednesday afternoon.

Officials had expressed fears that without quick progress, any survivors would succumb to the elements.

But as the day continued, six were located, then eight, then 10, and the rescues began.

“We always hoped to find someone alive,” Titti Postiglione, of Italy’s civil protection agency, told reporters. “The fact we found people alive after so many hours give us even more hope.”

The survivors were found in the hotel’s kitchen — an area which was not crushed by the massive wall of snow that destroyed much of the building, Italian media reported.

Up to 30 people, including an unspecified number of children, at the four-star resort were initially reported missing on Wednesday.

The avalanche occurred after a series of magnitude 5.2 and higher earthquakes struck the region earlier in the day. It was not clear that the earthquakes triggered the avalanche.

Two people who were outside of the building when the avalanche struck were rescued Thursday. Rescuers have also found two bodies.

An investigation into the tragedy has been opened by a court in Pescara amid accusations that the emergency response was slow and that the threat of an avalanche was not taken seriously enough.

The first rescuers arrived amid a snow storm on skis early on Thursday morning, some 11 hours after the avalanche.

Giampaolo Parete, one of the survivors who was found Thursday, claimed that after the avalanche struck, he called local authorities to summon help, but was initially not believed.

Italian media reported that rescue efforts were not launched for hours after the avalanche struck.


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