Suddenly, a cry rose from the slopes of Gran Sasso that shook the Boot. It was around 11:30 p.m. “They are alive! We are working to get them out, but they are alive.” That was the first radio message from the firefighters, which was announced among the rubble of the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, Pescara province. There are survivors of the avalanche among the debris. “We need blankets and helicopters to take them away, because they are hurt.”
Then, as always happens in these circumstances, differing reports on the number of survivors emerged: There are six survivors. No, eight, maybe more. Now 10. The most widely reported number is nine, among them four children. The mayor of Farindola, Ilario Lacchetta, had a few hours earlier said, “There is less hope. Right now, I feel I can only embrace the families of the missing.” Now he announced, “Other survivors have been identified. Yes, there are others. There are clear signs.”
From within the snowy tomb — under an immense avalanche that that broke off the 2,400-meter slow of Mount Siella, crashed into the hotel and buried 35 people, including guests and workers — voices could be heard asking for help. “Come on, let’s dig!” And the rescuers kept digging, with greater urgency, heartened by the voices.