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19th Jan 2017

LATEST: 30 Missing in Italy Avalanche: ‘We’ve Heard No Replies, No Voices’

Katie Mythen-Lynch

Rescuers have yet to account for up to 30 people feared dead after an avalanche smothered a ski hotel in the Abruzzo region in Central Italy. 

Four earthquakes hit the mountainous area on Wednesday, triggering an avalanche that completely covered the upscale Rigopiano Hotel, destroying the building and trapping tourists and staff in the debris.

According to local reports, rescue efforts were severely hampered by a snow storm and a team only reached the hotel on skis through forested slopes in the early hours of this morning.

“We haven’t been able to do too much. The structure has collapsed. It’s more like a pile of rubble than a hotel,” said Antonio Crocetta, of the Alpine Rescue squad.

“The hotel is almost completely destroyed. We’ve called out but we’ve heard no replies, no voices. We’re digging and looking for people,” he told Reuters.

Italian news agency Ansa is reporting that some guests were able to send messages after the collapse, one reading “Help, we’re dying of cold.”

It’s now believed that there was seven staff working at the hotel at the time and potentially more guests.

This is the second time in five months that an earthquake has devastated the Abruzzo region. 298 people died in the last quake on August 24.

While there are no reports that any Irish citizens are among the missing, Irish citizens in the area have been asked to make contact with their families to confirm they are not affected.

Anyone concerned about an Irish citizens in the area can call 01 408 2527.