Central Italy on high avalanche alert

Luminosity Italia

Parts of central Italy remain on high alert for avalanches after heavy snows that also crippled access to remote areas.

Rescue teams are still digging through the ruins of a luxury hotel and compacted snow after an avalanche swept down the steep mountainside at 100 km/h on Jan 20 and buried clients and hotel staff inside. At last report, five bodies have been recovered, 23 people remain missing and 11 have been pulled from the shattered building alive, though none in the past 24 hours.

The alerts and rescues came after heavy snow and rain hit the south of Italy, a land more accustomed to balmy skies than wintery weather.

In Sicily a man was found dead on Jan. 21 after his car was swept away as a small river burst its banks amid torrential rain at Castronovo di Sicilia near Palermo. Three others in the car survived.

Schools in the Calabrian cities of Reggio, Catanzaro and Crotone and in many towns on the Ionian coast were closed Jan. 22 due to the weather.

Local authorities, firefighters, civil protection and Italian electricity company Enel said they were cooperating in the Abruzzo region to access still isolated towns and restore electricity supplies in the region, which was previously rocked by earthquakes measuring magnitude 5 and above on Jan. 18.