Italy suffers again from an earthquake, and this time a luxury mountain hotel became a victim of the disaster. A powerful avalanche struck the hotel, leaving nearly 30 people under snow and debris. It happened several hours after four earthquakes had hit the central part of the country. On average, the earthquakes were with a magnitude above 5. Two people were found alive right after the disaster and the police continued their search. The two survivors are men who were outside when the avalanche stroke the hotel.
Higher than average temperature made snow fall from several peaks in the mountain range of Gran Sasso that is located in the central part of the Abruzzo region. If earthquakes continue, this might be not the only avalanche in the region.
The four star Hotel Rigopiano was in the epicenter of the disaster. Upon arrival, the rescue team could only see parts of the roof and a row of windows of the four-story resort. The hotel was almost completely destroyed. At the time of the disaster approximately 30 people were inside the hotel, two children included. The rescue team started digging, looking for people and breaking through damaged furniture and other items. The landslide completely damaged one wall of the building, and mattresses and paintings were spotted many metres away from the hotel. The work of the rescue team was even more complicated because of deep snow that had fallen on the Gran Sasso. In some areas the snow was 5 metres deep. This also caused problems on mountain roads and first rescuers had to ski to the hotel. During the rescue campaign 11 people were found alive and 23 dead bodies were taken from the ruins.
Hotel Rigopiano is a 43 guestroom hotel located 1,200 metres above the sea level. According to Italian media, hotel guests knew about the risk of avalanche, they had checked out and were waiting for a snow plough to clear the road and let them leave the mountain.