Desperate tourists trapped inside an avalanche hit hotel in the Italian mountains have been sending texts to loved ones, amid reports that 30 people have died. One message, sent from inside the Hotel Rigopiano, called for help, saying they were dying of the cold.
With phone lines in guest rooms believed to have been cut off as a result of the avalanche, guests are understood to have also sent texts for help to emergency services. The four star resort, which sits in the remote little village of Farindola was hit by 6ft of snow following four earthquakes in the centre of Italy.
Emergency teams have walked for six miles on cross country skis to reach those who are trapped. Now, reports suggest that 30 guests and members of hotel staff are missing after the force of the snow damaged the building, moving it by 30ft. Two people are said to have been rescued so far. Images from inside the hotel show snow filling corridors and hallways. A rescue helicopter has also been seen flying overhead.
One man is understood to have survived the avalanche because he had gone outside to get something from his car when it struck. However, he has told medics that his wife and two children were buried inside.
Chef Giampaolo Parete, 38, who ws on holiday at the hotel is believed to be one of the two people rescued after he called his boss Quintino Marcella. Marcella said he had called emergency services, only to be told that the hotel had called a couple of hours earlier to report that everything was okay. He said it took some time until emergency crews took him seriously.
Rescuers who have now reached the hotel say that there is no sign of life inside. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentioloni has urged emergency services to redouble efforts to reach people trapped by the earthquake and snow. But rescue crews say they are struggling with the resources they have to deal with such major incidents.