Sunday 17 December 2017

Nine-year-old sang to two other children trapped by avalanche

Rescuers hold three puppies that were found alive in the rubble of the avalanche-hit Hotel Rigopiano. Photo: AP
Rescuers hold three puppies that were found alive in the rubble of the avalanche-hit Hotel Rigopiano. Photo: AP

Nick Squires

A nine-year-old boy trapped in the wreckage of the Italian hotel hit by an avalanche kept up the spirits of two younger children by singing them songs and telling stories from the Disney film 'Frozen'.

The heart-warming account of Edoardo Di Carlo's bravery came as the death toll from the disaster rose to 15.

Six bodies were recovered from the shattered ruins of the Hotel Rigopiano yesterday, leaving 14 people still unaccounted for. Nine people have been pulled out alive.

Edoardo, who is recovering in hospital, was hailed a hero after it emerged that he hugged and reassured six-year-old Ludovica Parete and seven-year-old Samuel Di Michelangelo as they endured two days and nights of freezing temperatures.

After the children found themselves imprisoned in a small space, without food or water, Edoardo sang songs and told stories from 'Frozen' when he learnt it was Ludovica's favourite film.

"The three children clubbed together in a little team and in that way they managed to overcome their fear," Alessandra Pagnani, a psychologist, told 'La Repubblica' newspaper. Now an orphan, Edoardo will be looked after by his older brothers.

Meanwhile, hopes faded yesterday any more survivors of the devastating avalanche in Farindola , north-east of Rome, would be found.

Firefighters' spokesman Alberto Maiolo said search crews aided by excavators were finally able to penetrate the central part of the hotel for the first time and found bodies in the bar and kitchen area. He said there were no signs of life.

"Logically, hopes fade as time passes, but we are continuing to search and trying to do it as quickly as possible," he said.

The first funerals were held yesterday, with crowds gathering under a steady rain outside the hilltop church in Farindola to pay their respects to Alessandro Giancaterino, the hotel's chief waiter.

Giancaterino, one of the first victims pulled from the wreckage, had offered to stay for a double shift on January 18 to spare a colleague from having to make his way to the hotel through the snow, which was two to three metres high in some places.

"He was a hard worker. He was very professional," said his brother, Massimiliano Giancaterino. "This is the memory that I want to keep of my brother."

Irish Independent

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