Last week a large avalanche occurred in the mountain regions of San Grasso, Italy, hitting a four-star hotel. Rescuers were able to pull out ten survivors so far from the snow and rubble.
Almost two days after the avalanche, which began by an earthquake, hit Italy’s Rigopian hotel, search teams were finally able to pull survivors out of the wreckage. Of those recovered, three of them are children. So far, four people have been confirmed dead. Crews are still searching for 20-30 people. Rescuers have been at work on the scene in shifts for over 24 hours in subzero mountain conditions.
The avalanche occurred sometime around 5:00 pm in Italy on Wednesday. The barricade of snow changed the four-story hotel into sticks, pushing it approximately 32 feet from its original placement. Close to 16 feet of snow covers what remains of the lodge. Two men happened to be outside when the avalanche struck the hotel and were able to dodge the impact. They were some of the first to call for help.
A few survivors were able to take refuge under a portion of the hotel that had collapsed. They were able to build a fire to keep warm. One rescuer, Luca Cari, reports that they had to cut through the roof to get to some of the survivors. He said that the victims had spent 42 hours in a bedroom.
A portion of the guests went down to the ground floor of the hotel to wait for rescuers after the earthquake. This particular hotel is on a steep slope alongside the San Grasso Mountain, which is also home to the tallest peak in central Italy, south of the famous Appalachian Mountains. A thorough investigation is ongoing as there were complaints that the rescue team’s response to the tragic event was too slow. It took an estimated 12 hours for alpine rescuers, who came down the mountain on skis, to arrive on the scene. Due to the immense amount of snow, roads coming into the area were blocked off.
Sadly, Quintino Marcella, one of the survivors, said he had got in contact with police right after the avalanche hit the building, only to be laughed at. The authorities did not believe him. It wasn’t until two hours later and numerous calls that officials finally told Marcella that rescuers would be there as soon as possible to help them.