"They are alive.
We are talking to them," Luca Cari, spokesman for the national
fire brigade, said by telephone from the scene. Cari said six
survivors had been found, while an Alpine Rescue official said
there were five.
One of the survivors is a young girl, Deputy Interior Minister
Filippo Bubbico said, speaking in the nearby town of Penne,
where he is monitoring the rescue for the government.
Helicopters have been dispatched with equipment and doctors to
try to extract and evacuate the survivors, Italian media said.
Rescuers searched all night for some 30 missing people. Two
bodies have been removed, officials said, while Italian media
said two more were located overnight.
Two men who were outside the hotel when the avalanche
The disaster struck the hotel in central Italy late on Wednesday
afternoon amid a driving snowstorm, just hours after four
earthquakes with a magnitude above 5 rattled the area.
More than 30 people, including four children, were in the
building when the avalanche slammed into it, officials said,
reducing much of it to rubble and spreading debris across the
As much as 5 meters (16 ft) of snow covered much of what is left
of the hotel, said Walter Milan, a member of the Alpine Rescue
service who is on the scene. Only sections of the spa and
swimming area were intact, he said.
The government is meeting on Friday and is expected to declare a
state of emergency.
An investigation into the tragedy has been opened by a court in
Pescara amid accusations that the emergency response was slow.
The first rescuers arrived amid a snow storm on skis early on
Thursday morning, some 11 hours after the avalanche.
Giampiero Parete, a chef who was a guest in the hotel, had gone
to his car to get some headache medicine for his wife when the
avalanche struck. His wife and two children, aged six and eight,
are still missing.
Parete called his boss, Quintino Marcella, with his cell phone
at 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday, just after the avalanche had struck,
asking him to call for help.
"He told me: 'The hotel has collapsed'" Marcella said in an
interview with RAI state TV, but Marcella said the local
prefecture did not immediately believe him, so he kept calling
until he was assured help was on the way some two hours later.
(Reporting Antonio Denti in Penne and Valentina Consiglio in
Rome, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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