30 missing after avalanche buries hotel in central Italy


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of an avalanche in Abruzzo, Italy. There are no indications of any Irish citizens being involved.

Anyone with serious concerns for Irish citizens in the area can call +39 06 585 2381/+353 1 408 2527.
Earlier: People are feared dead after an avalanche buried a mountain hotel in an earthquake-hit region of central Italy.

Rescuers have been calling out to survivors at the Hotel Rigopiano in Abruzzo, but no one has responded, the news agency ANSA reported.

At least 30 people are missing and ANSA quoted a rescuer as saying that there were fatalities.
Local media have reported that two people had been pulled out.

The civil protection agency said it was working to get rescue vehicles through roads covered in snow, joining initial rescue efforts overnight by alpine rescue teams.

Italian media said the avalanche covered the three-storey hotel on Wednesday. The hotel is about 30 miles (45km) from the coastal city of Pescara.

Mountain rescue teams reached the hotel by skis at around 4am local time (0300 GMT), Sky TG24 reported.
Video footage showed rescuers with shovels digging through a wall of snow, and at least one man being led through the cleared path.

An ambulance was blocked several miles from the hotel, according to Sky.

A survivor told ANSA he was saved because he had gone outside to his car to get something when an avalanche hit.
The survivor, identified as 38-year-old Giampaolo Parete, told doctors that his wife and two children were buried in the avalanche.

He said that the car had not been buried and that he waited there for rescuers.

Earthquakes hit the region on Wednesday, including one with a 5.7 magnitude, but it was not immediately clear if they triggered the avalanche.

The mountainous region of central Italy has been struck by a series of earthquakes since August which destroyed historic sites in dozens of towns and hamlets.

A deadly quake in August killed nearly 300 people, but no-one died in the strong aftershocks in October largely because population centres had already been evacuated.

In the meantime, the entire region has been hit by cold weather and buffeted by snowstorms, piling more suffering on to the hard-hit population.

People left homeless by the earlier quakes had been moved to hotels in the region, but it was not immediately clear who was staying at Hotel Rigopiano, which is located in the Gran Sasso National Park.

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