Rescuers were searching into the night Thursday for survivors of an avalanche that killed no less than two people and blasted a hotel in central Italy.
Italy's Civil Protection Department declares that 30 people were thought to be still inside the wreckage of the Hotel Rigopiano. Some could have survived in air pockets, although cold temperatures would put at risk the survivors. Some people have been rescued.
The avalanche swallowed the hotel, located at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain and about 85 miles (135 kilometers) northeast of Rome.
There was a great level of destruction
Road crews had cleared much of the debris, snow and fallen trees by nighttime Thursday, finally allowing heavy rescue equipment to reach the hotel. Helicopters and snow machines had earlier taken searchers, including dogs, up the mountain.
Italian fire department spokesman Luca Cari, who was at the scene, told CNN that the hotel had been "completely slammed" in the avalanche and debris was scattered as far as 100 meters from the hotel structure, thus, there is a very large search area.
Some people have been rescued and others escaped before the avalanche
Estimates of the number of missing people are based on guest registration and staff numbers, but it is possible that some people escaped before the avalanche hit. According to website TripAdvisor, the hotel has 43 rooms.
Civil Protection Department chief Fabrizio Curcio told journalists that two people were rescued from the site of the Hotel Rigopiano, but rescuers using search dogs have seen no more signs of life. The searchers are calling out but no one is answering.
A man who was vacationing with his wife and two children, 6 and 8, said he missed being caught in the destruction just because he had walked to his vehicle before the avalanche hit. The whereabouts of his children and wife remained unknown Thursday.