Rescuers working to recover survivors of the avalanche that buried the Hotel Rigopiano have rescued three puppies, The Guardian reports. The discovery raised hopes that the 23 people who remain missing in the disaster, which happened five days ago, could be found alive.
Firefighter Fabio Jerman told The Guardian that the discovery meant that there were still air pockets in the collapsed building, a hopeful sign. A new route is being dug into the rubble to find more survivors.
According to The Local it, nine survivors were pulled from the hotel Friday, where they had been trapped in tiny spaces in the debris, eating snow in order to remain alive. By burrowing through narrow holes in the snow and rubble, rescue workers have been searching each room of the buried hotel.
Meanwhile, more details are emerging about the situation at the hotel just prior to the avalanche. Manager Bruno Di Tommaso told officials in an email sent shortly before the avalanche struck on Wednesday that his guests were terrified by multiple earthquakes in the area, and that they had been prevented from leaving the hotel by snowdrifts, the BBC reports. There was, however, no mention of the potential for an avalanche, and Italian officials have said that the area was not considered to be at risk. A snowplow had been due to begin clearing the road to the hotel Wednesday evening, but the avalanche hit in the afternoon.
The hotel is near the area hit by a series of earthquakes last summer that damaged several popular tourist towns, including Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, and killed over 240 people. Several historic buildings were also destroyed in that disaster, as well as the Hotel Roma in Amatrice.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story.