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Avalanche buries hotel, leaves up to 30 missing

via European PressPhoto

via European PressPhoto

Brandan Walz, Journalist

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An avalanche has buried a mountainside hotel in Italy. The avalanche came after four earthquakes struck throughout the day on Wednesday, January 18th. Civil protection services said on Thursday that up to thirty people are missing. Schools and subway systems within 100 miles had been shut down as a precaution to these earthquakes.

Fabrizio Curcio, chief of the civil protection department told a news station that search and rescue teams had reached the hotel but the situation is very difficult to investigate. Other emergency response teams have arrived to the tragedy and have reported no signs of survivors yet. Images have shown the building with snow piled up against it almost all the way up, leaves and branches scattered, and trees that have fell over on top of the hotel. Another image showed a rescue worker digging through the pile of snow and carrying at least one person to safety.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that the rescue team has been presented with “unprecedented” difficulties due to an intense snowfall “that hadn’t been recorded for decades.” It has also been said that officials registered more than 100 aftershocks on Wednesday, and Sky TG24 has reported two people dead. There are fears that death toll will rise greatly. The local fire department arrived at the hotel but said “at the moment, no signals from the missing.” Emergency vehicles have tried to assist rescue teams but did not prove to be much as help as they struggled with the heavy snow on the roads. Due to the vehicles not working, rescuers had to travel about 5 miles on skis and snowshoes to arrive at the hotel while heavy snow has continued to fall.

There were an estimated 30 people in the 43 room hotel. However, the number of guests there during the avalanche is not for sure known. People’s efforts have not gone unnoticed as Gentilnio said that the country’s “heart and mind” were closely following their efforts. “Everyone is doing as much as they can, but I ask all operators to increase their commitment”. Searches will continue in hopes to rescue the 30 missing people.

Side Notes:

Three earthquakes in Italy last year killed nearly 300 people in and around the town of Amatrice.

In 2009 the town of L’Aquila was hit by an earthquake that also killed more than 300 people.

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