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Italy Avalanche Death Toll Rises to 14

  • VOA News

Italian firefighters search for survivors after an avalanche buried a hotel near Farindola, central Italy, Jan. 19, 2017.

Italian rescuers say the death toll from last week's avalanche that struck an Italian luxury mountain hotel has risen to 14.

Search crews in Italy found five more bodies overnight from the rubble of the four-star Hotel Rigopiano in the town of Farindole, and then two more as firefighters were able to penetrate deeper into the ruined building.

Several people have been pulled alive from the luxury resort, which was buried last Wednesday under a massive wall of snow and debris that was triggered by a series of strong earthquakes that rattled the central region of Abruzzo.

Fifteen people remain missing.

A fire service spokesman has pledged rescue teams will continue to work night and day until everyone is accounted for. Hopes for additional survivors were raised Monday when three of the hotel's sheepdog puppies were found alive.

An investigation into the tragedy has been opened by a court in Pescara, with some saying the emergency response was slow. The first rescuers arrived amid a snow storm on skis 11 hours after the avalanche hit.