Italian search and rescue teams are engaged in a desperate race against time to free people trapped inside a remote hotel hit by an avalanche. The four-star Hotel Rigopiano was almost completely covered by the deluge late on Wednesday night in the remote, mountainous region. Rescuers had to use skis to reach the scene and gaining access since has proved extremely difficult for search and rescue teams.
This region of Italy can be difficult to reach in good weather, let alone the kind of snowy conditions they have have faced in recent weeks. Many roads remain blocked by snow and hotels in the area have been completely booked by panic-stricken locals who fear there are more aftershocks to come.
Italy’s prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has spoken to those leading the rescue operation and with the whole country watching on, he knows just how important the coming hours are. The hotel had 22 paying guests on Wednesday night and seven members of staff working, but locals say there were at least 35 people in there when the landslide came.
Hopes of finding any survivors at the hotel are dwindling, with rescuers reporting no signs of life as they search for the estimated 30 people believed to have been trapped inside.
Two bodies have been recovered so far.