Five days after an avalanche hit a hotel in Italy, rescuers were able to pull out three puppies from the rubble, spurring new hopes for the recovery of some 22 people who are still missing.
Italian emergency crews worked over the weekend to free the missing but did not find any signs of life. Yet after recovering the white sheepdogs from the hotel’s boiler room, they are optimistic about finding more people alive. According to firefighter Fabio Jerman, discovering the Abruzzo pups meant the building has air pockets.
“An important sign of life, which gives us hope,” he said.
One of the firefighters was so happy he buried his head in the snow and kissed a rescued puppy.
“They just started barking very softly," said Sonia Marini, a member of the Forestry Corps. "In fact, it was hard to find them right away because they were hidden. Then we heard this very tiny bark and we saw them from a little hole the firefighters had opened in the wall. Then we expanded the hole and we pulled them out.”
However, fire service member Luca Cari thinks the pups were discovered from an isolated part of the hotel and does not necessarily mean other people stuck inside will actually survive.
“It’s a race against time, we know we need to go fast, but it’s not an easy working environment,” he commented.
Previously, nine people were pulled out alive from tons of snow, trapped in tiny spaces with nothing but snow to eat.
While the rescuers were digging to find more life, they discovered three dead bodies, raising the death toll to nine. An email was sent out to local authorities by the hotel before the avalanche, pleading for help, raising questions if the disaster could have been avoided.
Italy’s president Antonio Di Marco confirmed he saw an email and had arranged for a snowplow to clear the road that night, the ANSA news agency reported.
People who have relatives and loved ones still stuck inside hope for a miracle.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters