25 feared dead as avalanche turns Italian hotel into 'coffin'
- Wife and children missing -The region was hit by four seismic shocks measuring above five magnitude in the space of four hours on Wednesday, when at least one person was confirmed to have died. Quake experts said the tremors almost certainly triggered the snowslide. The hotel's guests had been assembled on the ground floor awaiting an evacuation following the quakes that was delayed by snow-blocked roads when the avalanche struck. Local officials confirmed two guests who were not inside when the avalanche struck had been rescued. One of them, identified as Giampiero Parete, 38, was quoted by friends in Italian media as saying his wife and two children, a girl aged six and a boy aged eight, had been inside the hotel.
- Fears for some local families -The hotel, a four-star establishment with its own spa and indoor pool, was located at an altitude of 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) around 90 kilometres (55 miles) east of the epicentres of Wednesday's earthquakes. They were also centred near Amatrice, the town devastated in an August quake in which nearly 300 people died. A region dominated by Gran Sasso, a majestic 2,912 metres (9,554 feet) peak, has numerous small ski resorts popular with day-trippers from Rome and urban centres on Italy's east coast. The one person confirmed dead Wednesday was a man found buried under the debris of a building in Castel Castagna, a small town to the north of Farindola. The quakes affected an area that straddles the regions of Lazio, Marche and Abruzzo which is home to many remote mountain hamlets. Although many residents had been evacuated from their homes after last year's quakes, there were fears for families who had decided to stay and are now cut off. Guido Castelli, the mayor of the Marche town of Ascoli said his staff were trying to check on around 1,000 people in cut-off hamlets. Schools in the affected region have been closed until next week to allow structural safety checks to be carried out. Italy is prone to earthquakes but has rarely suffered so many in quick succession. Since the Amatrice disaster, there have been nine shocks measuring more than a five magnitude and a total of 47,000 registered aftershocks. Italy straddles the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, making it vulnerable to seismic activity when they move.