Up to 25 people are missing, feared dead, after an avalanche hit a four-storey hotel in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. Several children are believed to be among those inside.
Four people have been confirmed dead. Two were recovered from under the snow in Farindola, the village nearest to the Hotel Rigopiano, which lies at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain.
At least two people were found alive and are being treated for hypothermia.
A wall of snow and debris hit the four star hotel and spa on Wednesday evening, a matter of hours after four strong earthquakes struck central Italy.
Images from inside the Hotel Rigopiano after the avalanche show deserted communal areas and the hotel buried in mounds of snow and rubble. The sheer force of the avalanche dragged parts of trees and branches inside the building.
The wintry conditions have hampered recovery operations. Rescuers could only reach the site on skis initially and are making slow progress.
Firefighters, mountain rescue teams, ambulances and local police are coordinating the search and rescue operation.
The force of the avalanche is said to have pushed the hotel some ten metres away from its usual site.
One of those rescued said his wife and children were trapped inside.
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