Ten people including two children have been found alive in the rubble of an Italian hotel that was engulfed by an avalanche, police have said.
The Rigopiano Hotel, in the town of Farindola, was buried in more than 5 metres of heavy snow when disaster struck on Wednesday.
Four earthquakes above magnitude 5 hit the mountain in the central region of Abruzzo, leading to road blocks which delayed rescuers from reaching the scene.
An estimated 30 people were buried in the avalanche, with two people initially escaping and calling for help. At least four people have been confirmed dead.
Video released by rescuers showed a boy, wearing blue snow pants and a matching ski shirt, emerging from the structure through a snow hole. Emergency crews ruffled his hair in celebration.
”Bravo, Bravo!” they cheered.
Next came a woman with a long ponytail wearing red snow pants, appearing fully alert. Both were helped to a stretcher for the helicopter ride out.
“This first news has obviously repaid all the rescuers’ efforts,” said Italy’s deputy interior minister, Filippo Bubbico.
Firefighter Giuseppe Romano then said more positive news was unfolding: “There are signs from other people. Other people are responding to our requests,” he told Sky Tg24.
Rescue crews said the first group of survivors had been found in a kitchen area, and had survived thanks to an air pocket that formed when reinforced cement walls partially resisted the avalanche’s violent power.
“It’s probable that they realized the risk and took protective measures,” Romano said.
Those being rescued were in remarkably good condition and were being flown to area hospitals, rescue workers said.
Titi Postiglione, operations chief of the civil protection agency, also said the survivors would be helping rescuers trying to find others trapped in the hotel.
“They can give us a series of indications to help with our intervention plan, information to understand what happened and help direct the search,” she said.