Pair Recalls 'Miracle' Survival in Avalanche That Killed 29
They were confined to a couch under collapsed ceiling
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2017 9:39 AM CST
Vincenzo Forti, right, and Giorgia Galassi.   (AP Photo/Eldar Emric)
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(Newser) – For three days, Giorgia Galassi and Vincenzo Forti sat on a couch—but this was no extreme binge-watching marathon. Buried in Italy's Hotel Rigopiano after an avalanche struck on Jan. 18, the couple huddled together, their heads less than two feet from the collapsed ceiling, and ate snow before rescuers pulled them out by their feet on Saturday, report the New York Times and the AP. Galassi says their survival was "truly a miracle." Only nine people survived inside the hotel—in addition to three puppies—while two others were found alive in a car outside, per CNN. Officials say 29 others died. Autopsies conducted on six bodies show some victims were crushed immediately, while others died of hypothermia and asphyxiation, a prosecutor says.

Francesca Bronzi's boyfriend, who was celebrating his birthday, was among those killed. But Bronzi was luckily confined to a small cavity near Galassi, 25, and Forti, 22, who helped boost her morale. The couple recalls guests gathering in the hotel lobby after earthquakes shook the building. Then the avalanche struck, burying the hotel in 60,000 tons of snow, rock, and uprooted trees. "It all started from a rumble. And then everything collapsed" in "a roar," Forti says. "We couldn't see anything, it was total darkness," adds Galassi. "I don't think I have ever prayed so much in my life." Officials are now investigating the response to the avalanche; the AP reports rescuers were delayed because a call for help was initially interpreted as a prank.

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