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Letter #1, 2017: Avalanche and Prayer

January 19, 2017, Thursday -- Avalanche and Prayer

Further heartbreaking news from central Itay.

Yesterday morning four earthquakes hit central Italy. We could feel the tremors here in Rome, just slightly.

At first it seemed that no one had been hurt.

Then came the news that as many as 30 people had been buried in snow when an avalanche, sparked by the earthquake, covered a central Italy hotel, the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, in the the Abruzzo region, not far from Pescara. (The location is some distance south of Norcia, where an earthquake on October 30 destroyed the Basilica of St. Benedict.)

The most tragic thing of all is that text messages came from cell phones of people trapped in the hotel, begging for help, saying that they were dying of cold.

Reuters journalist Roberto Mignucci wrote today from Penne, Italy (link):

"Hopes of finding survivors dwindled on Thursday more than 24 hours after an avalanche struck a luxury mountain hotel in Italy burying up to 30 people under tons of snow and debris.

"The Civil Protection department said just two bodies had been recovered but its chief said the search for victims and possible survivors would continue through the night.

"'There is always hope, if there were no hope the rescuers wouldn't give everything they've got,' Fabrizio Curcio told reporters.

"He said his teams would 'continue to do everything possible during the night,' even though conditions were far more difficult than in daytime."

Nick Squires wrote for The Telegraph, also from Penne (link)

"Accounts emerged of hotel guests messaging rescuers and friends for help on Wednesday, with at least one attempt at raising the alarm rebuffed for several hours.

"One couple trapped in the wreckage of the hotel reportedly sent a text message to rescue authorities saying: 'Help, we're dying of cold'...

"Rescuers had divided up the destroyed site into strictly-delineated sectors and were painstakingly searching the wreckage by hand.

"'We're working as quickly as we can but in a very organised way,' said

Valter Milan, 32, a member of Italy's Alpine Rescue Service. 'We can't use bulldozers or other heavy machinery because there would be a risk of crushing people if they are still alive beneath the rubble.'

"Three teams of sniffer dogs were being used but they were finding conditions challenging. 'There are lots of air pockets down there, which confuses them,' the officer said. 'But we hope to able to bring people out alive.'"

Please pray for these poor people trapped in the hotel under the avalanche as rescue workers struggle in heavy snow and cold during the night to try to find survivors.


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