UPDATE/Photos: Eleven Survivors Pulled from Italian Avalanche; Six Confirmed Dead; 23 Still Missing

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First-responders in a desperate race against time are meticulously digging through the mountains of snow covering the Hotel Rigopiano, hoping to detect in the demolished Italian luxury resort additional signs of life even with hope slowly fading.

Nine survivors have been pulled from the remains, which had been pushed forward, thirty feet off its foundation and crushed, in the avalanche triggered by three strong successive earthquakes on Wednesday.

As survivors tell their stories, the details are helping rescue workers pinpoint the possibility of additional survivors.

Before the avalanche sent a wall of snow, weighing between 40,000 and 60,000 tons with a resting weight of 120 tons, crashing down on the idyllic ski resort the guests had been notified of an evacuation order due to the earthquakes. Many the guests had been waiting in the lobby to settle-up their accounts when the avalanche hit.

The below graphic as seen in the U.K. based newspaper, The Telegraph, depicts the tedious and dangerous effort rescue workers undertake to free trapped avalanche victims. 

While parents were waiting in the lobby for instructions, three children, two boys and an eight-year-old girl, ran off to the games room. The decision saved their lives.

Guests describe the initial hit as sounding like a bomb blast and the force “sent them flying.” And while they were in shock the injuries of the lobby survivors were minimal, with a combination of dehydration and hypothermia, with one victim explaining she had eaten the snow to quench her thirst.

During the first hours of the ordeal lobby guests still had fully charged cell phone batteries and used the light to determine the building had caved in, leaving four separate pockets, with beams striking the floor, and in one case stopping millimeters from a crushing a child.

Three children, who were given priority were rescued from a surprisingly intact games room. The children after spending nearly fifty hours, alone, have been reported as being in both good mental and physical health. They had found single packets of Nutella to eat and a case of water.

The mother to the girl in the games room, and her brother had survived and were in the kitchen, apparently in close enough proximity to talk to the children in the games room and kept them calm while they were waiting for rescue.

Workers are reporting on Italian News Services Rai News a mother and her daughter have been rescued and lit a fire to keep warm for the more than 40 hours they survived under the ruins.

Rescues are going viral of the first three children found in the game room, all dressed in ski gear, boots, prepared to exit the hotel, which assisted them in staying warm.

To date four children, and seven adults have been rescued. Of the confirmed dead, two, Sebastiano Di Carlo, and his wife, Nadia Acconciamessa, are the parents of Edoardo di Carlo, one of the boys in the games room. He has two sisters who were not at the hotel at the time of the avalanche.

With the rescue entering the fifth day, hope is dimming and still there is the possibility of finding survivors as freed victims are explaining the avalanche did not flatten the building and left pockets in rooms, corners and in other places outside the lobby.  

All those guests in the lobby area have been rescued.

Avalanche Graphic image courtesy of The Telegraph UK

Images courtesy of Italian Ria News Service and Italian State News Service. 

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