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Letter #2, 2017: Ten Found Safe

January 20, 2017, Friday -- Ten Found Safe

Some good news from central Italy.

Ten survivors have now been dug out of tons of snow and are alive and well after an avalanche buried a mountain hotel at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

Rescuers are continuing to look for another 20 people who are thought to be buried under the snow.

Here is an image showing the rescuers and the hole from which they are pulling some of the people they have saved:

After two days of being trapped in the avalanche, four children and a woman were among the 10 people today pulled out of the snow that smothered the Hotel Rigopiano in the Abruzzo region. The avalanche followed several earthquakes which struck the region Wednesday morning and were also felt in Rome where Pope Francis was holding his Wednesday morning general audience.

Workers say they will continue to work all night to free other possible survivors.

At least four people have already been confirmed dead in the tragedy.

The first person pulled out was an eight-year-old boy, the son of Giampiero Parete, who had gone to his car outside the hotel to get headache pills for his wife when the avalanche struck. He first sounded the alarm shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon by calling his boss.

The boy's mother, Adriana, was pulled out next, telling rescue workers her six-year-old daughter was still trapped inside.

The little girl was also later saved and the whole family was reunited at a hospital in the coastal town of Pescara.

They had taken refuge beneath a partially collapsed portion of ceiling and had lit a fire to keep warm for two days.

"They had heavy clothes," Dr Rossano di Luzio told reporters. "They had ski caps... They remained away from the snow and cold, they were always inside the structure. That's why the hypothermia wasn't severe."

Many of the hotel guests had already gathered on the ground floor of the hotel to await evacuation following the morning earthquakes, before the avalanche.

But the 5 p.m. avalanche completely buried the hotel before they could be evacuated.

The hotel was completely buried for hours before rescue teams arrived after struggling to reach the scene on skis due to roads blocked by heavy snowfalls.

The first rescue team reached the hotel by 04:30 on Thursday, almost 12 hours after the avalanche hit.

Rescuers are unsure of the exact total of people -- guests and staff -- who were at the hotel, but say it could be as many as 35.

So about 20 people are still unaccounted for.

Below, Italian firefighters cheer after pulling a child alive from under snow and debris of an hotel that was hit by an avalanche on Wednesday. (Image: Italian Firefighters/ANSA via AP)


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