Some good news out of Italy in the wake of Wednesday's devastating avalanche: Eight people, including two children, were found alive on Friday inside a smothered hotel in the mountains, according to Italian media reports cited by the BBC. Rescuers have gotten two of them out and were working on the other six, reports Reuters. "Finding these people gives us further hope there are other survivors," says a rescue official. Authorities estimated that 30 people had been trapped inside Hotel Rigopiano when the avalanche struck. So far, two bodies have been retrieved and two more have been located.
"The situation is catastrophic," says a member of the Alpine rescue service, one of the first to reach the site. "The mountain-facing side is completely destroyed and buried by snow: the kitchen, hotel rooms, hall." One big hurdle to the rescue effort has been the remote location of the hotel in Farindola, central Italy, notes AP. One survivor says all the guests had checked out, but a plow needed to clear the road so they could leave didn't arrive in the afternoon as promised; disaster struck around 5:30pm. Italian media reports that prosecutors have begun a manslaughter investigation into allegations that threats of an impending avalanche weren't taken seriously enough. (Read more avalanche stories.)