Italy hotel avalanche toll rises to 14

Rome, Jan 24 (IANS) Five more bodies were found in the ruins of the mountain hotel in Italy engulfed by an avalanche six days ago, the media reported on Tuesday.

In the past few hours, the bodies of three men and two women were recovered from the Rigopiano hotel in central Italy, bringing the total number of victims to 14, the BBC said.

Fifteen people remain unaccounted for and rescuers said there was still a faint hope that some could still be alive.

Firefighters were trying to punch a hole through an 80 cm concrete wall into the hotel bar. Rescuers worked round the clock and still hope to find survivors. Eleven people have been found alive, according to reports.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella called for a “united effort and common front in the face of disaster”. But concerns have been raised about the emergency services’ handling of the disaster.

Some relatives of the missing have complained that the snow-bound hotel, which lies near the 2,912-metre-tall Gran Sasso peak in central Abruzzo region, should have been evacuated before the avalanche hit on Wednesday.

According to rescuers, the rooms on the upper floors were completely destroyed in the avalanche after four consecutive earthquakes on January 18.