Rescue Operation in Italy Closed: 11 Found Alive, 29 Dead

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
January 26, 2017World News
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Rescuers have pulled the last of 29 bodies from the wreckage of a hotel in central Italy a week after it was razed by an avalanche, the national fire brigade said on Thursday (January 26).

With the discovery on Wednesday (January 25) night of the bodies of one man and one woman, everyone known to have been at the Hotel Rigopiano when it was flattened has now been accounted for.

Eleven people survived the disaster, which struck in the wake of heavy snowstorms and several powerful earthquakes on Jan. 18.

Nine of them, including four children, were extracted shivering after spending days under the crushed masonry.

Rescuers had to use pickaxes and heavy earth-moving equipment to shift snow and debris and break through the reinforced concrete roof.

“We began by studying the building and the impact of the avalanche on the structure. We saw that the structure was overturned and we sought to locate, and we were fortunate to be able to identify the position of the various areas of the hotel. We then collected testimonies on the movements and activity inside the building and on what could be presumed to be happening inside the hotel at the moment the avalanche hit. This is how we identified the locations where it was likely to find people still alive and focused our search operations in those parts of the site,” said head of Italy’s fire department emergency office, Giuseppe Romano.

Work at the disaster site will continue after the search and rescue operations were closed, Romano said, adding that emergency services were also preparing and securing the site for investigators.

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the tragedy, which Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said would establish if anyone was to blame.

Many guests had wanted to leave before the wall of snow struck but were unable to do so because the access road was already blocked.

The opposition 5-Star Movement criticised cuts to local government funding and the scrapping of a rural police force. They said the national emergency prevention and response system had been ill-prepared.

Gentiloni has promised to launch an emergency decree and add to reconstruction funds set aside after earthquakes tore through the heart of Italy last year.

(Reuters)

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