'Many Dead' After Avalanche Buries Hotel
30 missing at hotel in quake-hit Italian region
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 19, 2017 3:31 AM CST
Updated Jan 19, 2017 4:00 AM CST
An aerial view of the Rigopiano Hotel hit by an avalanche in Farindola, Italy, early Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.   (Italian Firefighters via AP)
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(Newser) – An avalanche buried a mountain hotel in an earthquake-hit region of central Italy Wednesday evening, leaving at least 30 people missing, authorities say. The civil protection agency said that it was working to get rescue vehicles to the Hotel Rigopiano through roads covered in snow, joining initial rescue efforts overnight by alpine rescue teams, the AP reports. "There are many deaths," the head of a rescue team said, per the BBC. About 12 hours after the avalanche, only two survivors had been rescued, one of them a guest at the hotel who was outside at the time, reports Reuters. "I am alive because I went to get something from my car," Giampiero Parete explained.

Italian media also was reporting that people trapped in the hotel texted emergency numbers pleading for assistance. "Help, we're dying of cold," one couple reportedly said. But a rescue-team member says though rescuers have called out, they've gotten no answer. Earthquakes hit the region on Wednesday, including one with a 5.7 magnitude, but it wasn't immediately clear if the temblors triggered the avalanche at the three-story hotel in the Abruzzo region. Mountain rescue teams reached the hotel by skis around 4am, according to reports in the Italian media. Video footage showed rescuers with shovels digging through a wall of snow, and at least one man being led through the cleared path.

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