earthquake rescue

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Deadly snow avalanche hits hotel in earthquake-stricken central Italy

Rescue workers were met with an eerie silence Thursday when they reached a four-star spa hotel struck by an avalanche in a mountainous earthquake-stricken region of central Italy. At least 30 people were missing, including at least two children, authorities said.

Guests at the three-story Hotel Rigopiano in the central Abruzzo region alerted emergency workers of the disaster on Wednesday, following a series of quakes in the region.

“Help, we’re dying of cold,” one couple wrote rescuers, according to the ANSA news agency. Another man, identified by news reports as Fabio Salzetta, sent a SMS message saying he had escaped with a maintenance worker, but that others were trapped inside.

Corriere della Sera quoted the text message as saying: “Some walls were knocked down.” And: “I’m outside with a maintenance worker but you can’t see anything of the hotel, there’s only a wall of snow in front of me.”

When rescuers on skis arrived in the early morning hours of Thursday, they found just two people alive, according to news reports. Civil protection authorities said that 30 people were missing. The ANSA news agency quoted a rescuer as saying that there were fatalities, but details weren’t immediately available. Just one body was reported removed from the hotel by late morning Thursday. (AP)

Photos: (from top) Italian Firefighters via AP, Italian Finance Police via AP, Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS, (Italian Firefighters via AP, Italian Fire Department/handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

See more images of the avalanche in central Italy on Yahoo News