Dozens dead in Abruzzo hotel after earthquake triggers avalanche in Italy

A number of people dead in Abruzzo hotel after earthquakes trigger avalanche in Italy

The Rigopiano hotel after the avalanche (Credit: Twitter @ciropellegrino)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

At least 30 people have died in Italy after an earthquake let loose an avalanche which hit a hotel on Wednesday night.

Rescue operations have continued overnight to free individuals trapped in the Rigopiano hotel in the Abruzzo region. Roughly 30 people were staying in the hotel on the Gran Sasso mountain in central Italy at the time of the disaster. 

As a result of the avalanche, the hotel's roof partly collapsed, but a heavy snowstorm had blocked key routes to the site.

Rescue services were only able to reach the building at around 04:00 (03:00 GMT) this morning on skis, with efforts stunted until the snow could be cleared.  

While the number of people who have died is currently unknown, the head of the mountain rescue team, Antonio Crocetta, was quoted as saying there were "many deaths."

More information on this as it develops.