Three adorable puppies have been rescued from an avalanche-hit hotel in the Italian Alps, providing fresh hope that there could still be more human survivors of the disaster.
The cut Abruzzo sheepdogs, which are just a month old, were trapped inside the Hotel Rigopiano, along with around 38 people when a wall of snow crashed down on the resort on Wednesday. While there have been happy endings for some, there are still 23 people missing following the catastrophe.
However, rescuers said that finding the puppies showed that it was still possible to survive under the 60,000 tonnes of snow, ice and rubble which came down. It is understood that the puppies were born in December at the hotel, to parents Wolf and Cloud, who have also been found alive.
This latest discovery comes as the first people to be pulled from the snow alive have been released after being treated in hospital. However, authorities in Italy are now facing probing questions about whether the risks to the hotel should have been examined more closely following four earthquakes in succession in central Italy. It is understood that early emergency calls were regarded as a hoax, meaning that the rescue operation was only launched two and a half hours after the avalanche hit, and that rescuers did not actually reach the site for 11 hours as roads were impassable as a result of severe weather conditions.
Heartbreakingly, one little boy had to be told that both of his parents had been killed, after he was pulled alive from the wreckage of the hotel. He had been in the hotel games room when the snow came down. When he was first lifted out, Edoardo Di Carlo exclaimed at the amount of snow, asking if he could go skiing. But, as he was being taken to hospital, he was overheard asking where his parents were.