A huge avalanche has engulfed a luxury mountain hotel in central Italy after a series of strong earthquakes rocked the area, burying up to 30 people under tonnes of snow and debris, officials say.
Italian media said three bodies had been retrieved from the site. Rescue workers declined to comment on the reports, but said they had yet to find any sign of life.
The gabled peaks of parts of the roof and a row of windows were the only sections of the four-storey Hotel Rigopiano still visible after the wall of snow smashed into the four-star spa resort early on Wednesday evening.
Local authorities said about 30 people had been in the building at the time, including two children, but more than 20 hours later, only a couple of survivors had been found — two men who had been outside when the disaster struck.
“The hotel is almost completely destroyed. We’ve called out but we’ve heard no replies, no voices,” said Antonio Crocetta, a member of the Alpine Rescue squad who was on the scene.
“We’re digging and looking for people,” he said from the isolated location in the Gran Sasso mountain range in the central Abruzzo region.
Rescue workers on skis reached Hotel Rigopiano on Thursday, reporting no signs of life as they searched for around 30 people believed trapped inside. Three bodies were recovered as heavy vehicles struggled to get to the scene.