Probe into hotel disaster in Italy
PENNE, Italy: Rescuers have pulled the last of 29 bodies from the wreckage of a hotel in central Italy a week after it was razed by an avalanche, the national fire brigade said yesterday.
With the discovery on Wednesday night of the bodies of one man and one woman, everyone known to have been at the Hotel Rigopiano when it was flattened has now been accounted for.
Eleven people survived the disaster, which struck in the wake of heavy snowstorms and several powerful earthquakes on January 18. Nine of them, including four children, were extracted shivering after spending days under the crushed masonry.
“When we managed to pull out the survivors it gave us hope and energy,” civil protection agency official Luigi D’Angelo said at an operation base in nearby Penne. “We never lost hope… until we had searched the last centimetre of the hotel.”
Rescuers had to use pickaxes and heavy earth-moving equipment to shift snow and debris and break through the reinforced concrete roof.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the tragedy to establish if anyone was to blame. Many guests had wanted to leave before the wall of snow struck but were unable to do so because the access road was blocked.
The opposition 5-Star Movement criticised cuts to local government funding and the scrapping of a rural police force. They said the national emergency prevention and response system had been ill-prepared. “It isn’t the snow’s fault,” the 5-Star wrote on founder Beppe Grillo’s blog.
“The failure of those who should have prevented this disaster and helped the communities in difficulty is clear to everyone.” – Reuters
A Red Cross worker wears a black ribbon during the funeral of Gabriele D’Angelo, a victim of the avalanche.