Fears as 30 go missing after avalanche buries Italian hotel

An avalanche buried a mountain hotel in an earthquake-hit region of central Italy, leaving at least 30 people missing, authorities have said.

An avalanche has buried the Hotel Rigopiano in Abruzzo, Italy. Picture: Vigili del Fuoco /PA Wire

The civil protection agency said that they were working to get rescue vehicles to the Hotel Rigopiano through roads covered in snow, joining initial rescue efforts overnight by alpine rescue teams.

Reports say there have been fatalities but full details are not currently available.

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Italian media said that the avalanche covered the three-story hotel in the central region of Abruzzo on Wednesday. The hotel is about 45 kilometres from the coastal city of Pescara.

Earthquakes hit the region on Wednesday, including one with a 5.7 magnitude, but it was not immediately clear if they triggered the avalanche.

Mountain rescue teams reached the hotel by skis around 4am local time.

Video footage showed rescuers with shovels digging through a wall of snow, and at least one man being led through the cleared path.

An ambulance was blocked several kilometres from the hotel.

ANSA quoted rescuers as saying they have been calling out to survivors but no one has responded.

The mountainous region of central Italy has been struck by a series of quakes since August that destroyed historic centres in dozens of towns and hamlets.

A deadly quake in August killed nearly 300, while no one died in the strong aftershocks in October largely because population centres had already been evacuated.

In the meantime, the entire region has been hit by cold weather and buffeted by snowstorms, piling more suffering on to the hard-hit population.

People left homeless by the earlier quakes had been moved to hotels in the region, but it was not immediately clear who was staying at Hotel Rigopiano, which is located in the Gran Sasso National Park.