Rescuers in Italy say there may be more avalanche survivors in hotel rubble
An Italian firefighter says rescue crews have indications of other survivors under the rubble of an avalanche-struck hotel in central Italy, CBC reported.
Earlier Friday, between six and eight survivors were already located by rescuers, who had found an air pocket in the kitchen of the crushed Hotel Rigopiano in Italy's snow-covered Abruzzo region following Wednesday's avalanche.
There is some discrepancy in the number of people who have been rescued.
The ANSA news agency quotes the vice-brigadier of Italy's financial police, Marco Bini, as saying eight people were located alive in two separate operations, but other reports say five or six survivors have been located.
Speaking to Sky TG24, firefighter Giuseppe Romano declined to confirm another five possible survivors. But he said, "Other people have responded to our signals."
Titti Postiglione told reporters that two survivors had already been pulled clear of the snow and debris that destroyed the isolated hotel on Wednesday. Rescuers were digging to free any other survivors.
"Finding these people gives us further hope there are other survivors," Postiglione said.
One of the survivors found on Friday was a young girl, said Deputy Interior Minister Filippo Bubbico, who is helping co-ordinate rescue efforts at the scene.
The survivors were found in the hotel kitchen area, which was not crushed by the tonnes of snow that obliterated much of the four-storey building, media said
About 30 people were inside the hotel when the avalanche hit. Two people who survived the devastation initially reported the emergency.
The ANSA news agency said the number of possible new survivors was six and that firefighting crews were in touch with them, but that the survivors were still under the rubble. Helicopters reportedly were on the way to the site to aid the evacuation.
Search and rescue teams have maintained the hope of finding more people alive after the avalanche buried the hotel under up to five metres of snow.
"We are hoping that the ceiling collapsed partially in some places and that someone remained underneath," rescuer Lorenzo Gagliardi told SKY TG24.
Rescuers were using shovels to dig into the tonnes of snow and debris. Two bodies were recovered and RAI state TV reported two more had been located but not yet removed.
The operations have been hampered by difficulty in accessing the remote hotel. Workers have been clearing a seven-kilometre road to bring in heavier equipment, but it can handle only one-way traffic.