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Italy quake: Up to 30 feared dead after avalanche buries hotel

Italy quake: Up to 30 feared dead after avalanche buries hotel

Italy’s Civil Protection agency confirmed the Hotel Rigopiano had been engulfed by a two ­meter high wall of snow and that emergency services were struggling to get ambulances and diggers to the site, RTE reports.

The agency said there had been around 30 guests and staff at the small ski hotel on the eastern lower slopes of the Gran Sasso mountain when the first of four powerful tremors rattled the region yesterday morning.

An earlier report had said up to 30 people had been found dead.

Local media said specialist mountain police who had reached the hotel on skis or by helicopter had begun extracting bodies.

They were quoted as saying there were no signs of life inside the building, which was moved by some 10 meters by the force of the snow.

“There are many dead,” one of the commanding officers, Antonio Crocetta, was quoted as saying.

Ambulances were blocked by two metres of snow some 9km away, according to the civil protection agency.

Antonio Di Marco, president of the province of Pescara, which includes the mountain village of Farindola, close to where the hotel is located, said two people had been found alive.

“We don’t know yet how many people are unaccounted for or dead,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

“What is certain is that the building took a direct hit from the avalanche to the point that it was moved by 10 meters.”

The region was hit by four seismic shocks measuring above five magnitude in the space of four hours yesterday when at least one person was confirmed to have died.

The hotel is located around 90 km (55 miles) from the epicenter of the quakes at Montereale, a small village south of Amatrice, the town devastated by an August earthquake in which nearly 300 people died.

Avalanche warnings were issued across the region which is dominated by Gran Sasso, a majestic 2,912 meters (9,554 feet) peak. The area has numerous small ski resorts popular with day­trippers from Rome and urban centers on Italy’s east coast.

One person was confirmed dead Wednesday after a body was found under the debris of a building in Castel Castagna, a small town to the north of Farindola.

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