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Italy: Avalanche Buries Hotel, 30 People Dead or Missing

An earthquake-induced avalanche has enveloped a small hotel in central Italy, where at least 30 are missing and many presumed dead.

The Rigopiano hotel in the Abruzzo region was overwhelmed by an avalanche Wednesday night after a series of ten earthquakes rocked Italy over a four-hour period earlier in the day. Further aftershocks continued to pummel the region through the night.

The impact of the avalanche reportedly displaced the hotel building more than 30 feet, and sections of the roof were caved in. The Mayor of Pescara, Antonio Di Marco, said the hotel was “buried in snow.”

Rescue efforts have been stymied by falling snow, which has reached a depth of some six feet, and ambulances and emergency vehicles are stuck five and a half miles from the hotel. The situation has been further complicated by a number of fallen trees and rocks that along with the snow have rendered roads unusable.

According to a civil protection agency spokesman, twenty firemen, two mountain rescue teams, six ambulances and local police were attempting to reach the site. Video has been released from the scene:

Volunteers and rescue personnel have donned skis and snowshoes in order to access the isolated hotel, and a helicopter has been mobilized to transport any survivors as they are found. On Thursday morning rescuers found two survivors, whom they managed to extract from the snow and rubble.

Antonio Crocetta, one of the leaders of the Abruzzo mountain rescue team, said there are “many dead” as a result of the avalanche. There were a total of 22 guests staying at the hotel, along with 8 staff members. For the moment, only two survivors have been found.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter 

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