- Title: Avalanche death toll rises, Italy plans emergency decree
- Date: 25th January 2017
- Summary: PENNE, ITALY (JANUARY 25, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF HELICOPTER CARRYING RESCUE WORKERS LANDING RESCUERS GETTING OUT OF HELICOPTER RESCUERS RETURNING FROM AVALANCHE HOTEL AFTER SHIFT CHANGE FACES OF RESCUE WORKERS / OTHER RESCUERS GETTING ON HELICOPTER TO FLY TO AVALANCHE HOTEL HELICOPTER FLYING OVER MOUNTAINS VARIOUS OF RESCUERS RESTING IN SPORTS HALL GROUP OF RESCUERS SITTING ON MATTRESSES, TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ITALY FIRE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON, LUCA CARI, SAYING: "The work to locate the missing people has continued uninterrupted for days. We are working in the heart of the hotel, the area near the bar and the reception. In the last few hours we have progressed very fast in the recovery of bodies there and that is why we have focused the efforts on this specific area." HELICOPTER FLYING PAST MOUNTAIN AVALANCHE PATH VARIOUS OF SNOW-CAPPED MOUNTAINS
- Embargoed: 8th February 2017 11:09
- Keywords: Italy avalanche hotel death toll Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
- Location: PENNE AND ROME, ITALY
- City: PENNE AND ROME, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Earthquakes/Volcanoes/Tsunami
- Reuters ID: LVA00160KWMYV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Six more bodies were pulled from the wreck of a hotel in central Italy that was razed by an avalanche one week ago, bringing the death toll to 24, the national fire brigade said on Wednesday (January 25).
Rescuers digging with pickaxes and mechanical excavators in the rubble of the Hotel Rigopiano found the bodies of four women and two men. No one has been found alive since early Saturday (January 21) and hopes of finding more survivors are fading.
Five people are still missing after the Jan. 18 avalanche crashed through the Gran Sasso national park on the heels of heavy snow storms and a flurry of powerful earthquakes.
"The work to locate the missing people has continued uninterrupted for days. We are working in the heart of the hotel, the area near the bar and the reception. In the last few hours we have progressed very fast in the recovery of bodies there and that is why we have focused the efforts on this specific area," Italy's fire department spokesperson Luca Cari said in Penne, where an operation base has been set up in a sports hall.
Addressing Italy's Senate in Rome, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said investigations into the avalanche had been launched and they would establish whether the emergency response had malfunctioned and if anyone was responsible for the tragedy.
He warned against rushing to look for scapegoats.
"If there are responsibilities for the tragedy at the Rigopiano Hotel, the investigations will clear this up. The government certainly doesn't fear the truth, but the truth helps us do better, not to poison the debate," he said.
Gentiloni said he would launch an emergency decree next week and add to money already set aside to rebuild after the region was devastated by tremors last year.
His government has earmarked 4 billion euros in this year's budget and Gentiloni said he had personally told Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission which signs off on the region's finances, that they would allocate more.
"This is not our destiny. It is in our hands to make sure that once the disaster has past, further injustice is not created. We can avoid that, we Italians have done that in so many territories of our country and we will do that also in these central Italian regions," he said.
Gentiloni has said he wants to give more power to disaster management authorities but has not yet given details of the plan.
As the premier spoke, residents of quake-struck areas, including the town of Amatrice where 300 people were killed last August, marched towards parliament to protest against the handling of the crisis.
"We can't continue living in these conditions, it's been five months. Absolutely not," said Amatrice resident Maria Domenica D'Annunzio.
The demonstrators carried banners and posters demanding action, not just words, from the authorities.
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