An avalanche in central Italy has buried a ski resort, leaving 30 people missing, amid rescue efforts to reach the four-star Hotel Rigopiano, close to Gran Sasso mountain.
The avalanche appeared to be triggered by four earthquakes, including one with a 5.7 magnitude. The disaster struck in the same mountainous region where a powerful earthquake last summer killed nearly 300 people.
Accounts emerged of hotel guests messaging rescuers and friends for help Wednesday, with at least one attempt at raising the alarm rebuffed for several hours.
‘‘Help, we’re dying of cold,’’ one couple wrote rescuers from the hotel, according to the ANSA news agency.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the rescue effort presented officials with “unprecedented” difficulties, describing the area as caught in a vise after intense snowfall “that hadn’t been recorded for decades,” and the strong earthquakes in the area on Wednesday.
Italian police and firefighters posted pictures and video of the hotel completely buried in the snow:
Piles of snow and rubble cascaded down the stairway and into the foyer of the hotel: