A 10-year-old boy pulled from the wreckage of the Italian hotel swept away by a devastating avalanche has been left an orphan after authorities confirmed both his parents were killed in the tragedy.
As the desperate search continued for survivors at the Hotel Rigopiano yesterday, harrowing accounts emerged from survivors of how tonnes of snow hit the four-star resort.
"It was like a bomb," said survivor Vincenzo Forti, who had hugged his girlfriend in the dark in a space measuring one square metre until they were rescued. "I found myself covered by pillars. I was sitting on the couch and one of the girders slid forward cutting it in half. That saved us."
Edoardo di Carlo (10) was one of four children and five adults saved by Alpine rescue specialists and firefighters after spending more than 48 hours in freezing temperatures buried by snow, ice and rock.
"Wow, look at all the snow," said the boy when rescuers pulled him from the hotel ruins late on Friday. "Can we go skiing?"
Edoardo and seven-year-old Samuel Di Michelangelo, who was also rescued, had been in the games room when the avalanche struck.
Both were reportedly in good physical and mental condition when they were found, but were distressed to leave the ruins of the hotel without their parents, said emergency workers.
"Where are mum and dad?" Edoardo asked as he was being transferred to a hospital in the nearest town, Pescara.
But officials later confirmed that Edoardo's parents, Sebastiano Di Carlo and his wife Nadia Acconciamessa, were among the dead. The couple had two other children, aged 16 and 20, who were not at the hotel.
Samuel's parents, Domenico Di Michelangelo and Marina Serraiocco, are still missing.
Rescue workers found another dead body in the wreckage yesterday, bringing the death toll to six and the number of missing to 23.
Shocked and shaken survivors began to talk yesterday about the ordeal of hours in frigid temperatures, feeling terrified and hugging one another in the dark.
Mr Forti's girlfriend, Giorgia Galassi, said: "The worst point was on the second day. We were trapped in a box, we heard no sounds from outside. We were sucking on ice but we weren't eating. We were losing strength and hope.
"We began banging on the ceiling until I couldn't any more. Then they called out to us. I shouted, 'I am Giorgia and I am alive.' It was the most beautiful thing I have ever said."
The number of missing rose to 23 after one of the rescued survivors said a 30-year-old African man, Faye Dame, was believed to be visiting the hotel when the avalanche struck.
Scores of exhausted Alpine experts, firefighters and police were continuing the search for survivors in difficult conditions late yesterday and appealed for more equipment. There were also fears that temperature fluctuations could provoke fresh avalanches.
"The situation unfortunately is the same as the last few days, we keep working non-stop, under extremely difficult weather conditions . . . but we will carry on working as quickly as we possibly can," said a spokesman.
Italian police snow and avalanche service Meteomont estimated the avalanche weighed between 40,000 and 60,000 tonnes when it barrelled into the hotel but the weight had increased to around 120,000 tonnes as the snow and ice pressing down on the buried building became heavier.
Rescuers said there were air pockets inside the wreckage but they had been unable to reach those areas.
"We hope we can get heavier equipment, the snow is getting heavier," Alessandro Sciucchi, from the Alpine rescue team said. Asked about signs of life, he said: "There aren't any signs, so hope is fading."
About 60 people at a time have been relying on shovels and their hands to dig.
But he stressed that efforts to find survivors were going non-stop, with roughly 200 crew members working in shifts. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Four people were pulled alive from the wreckage of a luxury hotel that was demolished on Wednesday by a deadly avalanche, bringing the number of survivors to nine, the national fire service said on Saturday.