The avalanche was apparently triggered by earthquakes that hit central Italy on Wednesday (Image credit: EPA)

Italy avalanche: 'Many missing' in hotel Rigopiano in Abruzzo

Rescuers say up to 30 people are missing after a hotel in central Italy was hit by an avalanche, apparently triggered by an earthquake on Wednesday.

Rescuers battled overnight to reach the Rigopiano hotel close to the Gran Sasso mountain in the Abruzzo region.

Two people have been found alive but most others appear to be buried under the snow.

One official said there were "many dead" in the hotel.

The mountainous region of Central Italy was hit by a succession of four earthquakes on Wednesday and further tremors were reported overnight.

What happened?

The roof partly collapsed and local residents in Farindola alerted emergency services.

Rescuers said at least 20 tourists and seven staff had been inside the Rigopiano hotel when it was hit by the avalanche.

Crews had been calling out to survivors but there had been no response.

"There are many deaths," Antonio Crocetta, the head of a mountain rescue team, was quoted as saying.

There were children among the guests, and media reports say children were among the dead.

But other officials said it was too early to tell...Read more...