Live Coverage

The Deadly Avalanche in Italy

Eleven people have been found alive; 23 people are still missing and six bodies have been recovered after last week’s avalanche.

A rescuer enters the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, central Italy. Guardia Di Finanza / Reuters

What we know on Monday, January 23:

—Authorities rescued three puppies, boosting hopes that there may be survivors among the 23 people still missing under the rubble of last week’s avalanche.

—In all 11 people have been found alive, 23 people are still missing, and six bodies have been recovered after last week’s avalanche.

—The avalanche struck the Hotel Rigopiano in the mountainous Abruzzo region’s Gran Sasso National Park.

—There were several strong quakes in central Italy on Wednesday. The region has also received heavy snowfall.

—We’re tracking the development below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).

Updates

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Last Bodies Recovered From Italian Hotel, Rescuers Say

Reuters

The remaining bodies of the victims killed in last week’s deadly avalanche have been recovered from the wreckage, Italian authorities said Thursday. A total of 29 people were killed when the avalanche struck the Hotel Rigopiano, flattening the building. Eleven people survived the disaster, including nine people who rescuers were able to successfully remove from the wreckage. Three puppies were also saved.

Puppies Found Alive in the Rubble

Rescuers found three puppies in the rubble of the Rigopiano Hotel in Abruzzo Monday, authorities said, boosting the possibility that more survivors could be found at the site of the hotel struck by an avalanche last week. Three trio—all Abruzzo shepherds, a local breed—were said to be in good health, ANSA reported. Fabio German, a spokesman for Italian firefighters, said the rescue suggests the existence of air pockets under the snow and rubble. This, he said, increases the chances of finding survivors. Eleven people have been found alive after last Wednesday’s avalanche, which was triggered by earthquakes; 23 people are still missing and six bodies have been recovered.


More Survivors Found, Authorities Say

More people have been found alive, ANSA quoted firefighters are saying. The new group reportedly number five, but that figure hasn’t been officially confirmed.

ANSA has more on the survivors so far:

A woman and her son were pulled out of the rubble Friday and taken to hospital in Pescara.
They are the wife and son of another survivor, Giampiero Parete, who escaped the avalanche because he went to get an aspirin for her from a car.
The mayor of the Marche town of Osimo, Simone Pugnaloni, said three other survivors were from his municipality - 41-year-old policeman Domenico Di Michelangelo, his 37-year-old wife Marina Serraiocco and the couple's seven-year-old son.

About 35 people were believed to have been at the hotel at the time the avalanche struck.

UPDATE: Six People Found Alive

A firefighter walks Friday inside Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, Italy. (Italy Fire Fighters / Reuters)

ANSA, the Italian news agency, is now reporting that rescue workers found six—not eight—people, including two children, alive under the snow and rubble of Hotel Rigopiano, which authorities said was flattened by the avalanche that struck the town of Farindola, in the central Italian region of Abruzzo. Two of those found alive—a woman and her daughter—have been rescued, ANSA reported. They are said to be in good condition. Authorities are trying to retrieve the others. Emergency workers rescued two people on Thursday, and recovered the body of two others. About 30 people were believed to have been at the hotel at the time of the avalanche on Wednesday that was triggered by earthquakes. Heavy snowfall in much of the region has made rescue work difficult.

WATCH: Aerial View of the Rescue Effort


Strong Quakes Hit the Region on Wednesday

The U.S. Geological Survey said two quakes—magnitudes 5.6 and 5.7—struck southwest of Amatrice, Italy, on Wednesday. Those temblors follow a string of earthquakes that began in August last year. News report said in there were four quakes and several tremors.

The area saw several quakes last year: A 6.2 quake on August 24  killed 300 people and severely damaged the town of Amatrice. Then came twin quakes on October 26 that resulted in damage to several buildings in central Italy. Four days later, a 6.6 quake injured 20 people, caused severe damage, and destroyed the Basilica of Saint Benedict.

Here’s more from the USGS about the region’s history of earthquakes:

The central Apennine region has experienced several significant earthquakes in recorded history. The largest instrumentally recorded earthquake within 100 km of the 2016-17 events was the January 13, 1915 M 6.7 earthquake, which was nearly 90 km to the south-southeast of the October 26, 2016 event, near Avezzano. The 1915 earthquake killed approximately 32,000 people. In September 1997, a Mw 6.0 earthquake 35 km west-northwest of the October 30, 2016 event killed 11, injured over 100 and destroyed approximately 80,000 homes in the Marche and Umbria regions. This 1997 event was part of a series of earthquakes known as the Umbria-Marche seismic sequence, which included eight events of magnitude greater than M5.0 in a two-month period between September and November of that year, including the events that substantially damaged the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi. In April 2009, a Mw 6.3 earthquake 60 km to the south-southeast of the October 30, 2016 event, near the town of L’Aquila, killed at least 295, injured over 1,000 and left 55,000 or more homeless. The L’Aquila earthquake resulted in significant landsliding in the local area, and was also followed by a vigorous aftershock sequence, including 5 other events of M 5.0 or larger. The location of the 2016-17 earthquake sequence is predominantly in a gap between the aftershock sequences of the 1997 and 2009 events; the January 18, 2017 events are just to the north of the northern extent of the 2009 sequence.

Rescue Workers' Account

Although the number of fatalities is unclear, Antonio Crocetta, an alpine rescue workers, told ANSA, the Italian news agency, “there are many dead.” Luca Cari, a fire brigade spokesman, told the news agency: “There [is] tons of snow, uprooted trees, debris that buried the area where the hotel was.” Firefighters were quoted as saying: “The situation is dramatic—the hotel has been swept away, only a little piece remained upright.” More from ANSA:

The rescuers said that they were continuing to dig but added “it’s extremely difficult.” Crocetta and others had to use skis to get to the hotel because of the heavy snow that has hit Italy. Alpine rescue personnel reported that the avalanche probably took place because of Wednesday’s earthquakes. Therefore, the hotel staff and guests have probably been under the snow and rubble for almost 24 hours. “The avalanche is huge” said rescuers. Rescue vehicles, including ambulances, have been blocked by snow about two metres high some nine kilometres from the Hotel Rigopiano, sources said Thursday. Firefighters are reaching the scene with a helicopter and a track vehicle that can carry up to eight people. The first people to reach the hotel were personnel from the Alpine Rescue who got there with skis.