PENNE, Italy, Jan. 20 (UPI) — Rescuers said they found at least six people alive Friday in a Penne, Italy, hotel buried by an avalanche after a series of earthquakes.
Up to 30 people were believed trapped in the Hotel Rigopiano, a four-star hotel at the foot of the Gran Sasso d’Italia mountain, about 85 miles northeast of Rome. Four fatalities were confirmed. The survivors include three men, two women and a young girl, the BBC reported, citing Italy’s RAI television channel.
The avalanche was believed prompted by several earthquakes Wednesday, each with a magnitude greater than 5, in an area already dealing with heavier-than-expected snowfall. The earthquake cut phone lines and electrical power to the hotel. The avalanche buried the hotel and moved it several feet of its foundation, the BBC said.
The six still alive have not yet been removed from the hotel, but fire department spokesperson Luca Cari said rescuers are in contact with the survivors, CNN reported Friday. Prior to the discovery of survivors, officials said some people trapped within the hotel could have survived in air pockets, but hope was fading. Searchers suspended rescue efforts overnight Thursday, fearing aftershocks and additional avalanches, but resumed operations Friday morning.