Six people face investigation over Italy avalanche deaths

Police have opened investigations into six people over deaths in an avalanche which engulfed a central Italian hotel in January.

Six people face investigation over Italy avalanche deaths
A rescue helicopter en route to the avalanche site. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Those who will face police questioning include public officials and the director of the Hotel Rigopiano, where the tragedy occurred.

On January 18th, 29 people died when the hotel was buried in a snowslide, following heavy snowfall and seismic activity in the Abruzzo region.

Round-the-clock rescue operations lasted a week, with 11 survivors – including all four children who had been at the hotel at the time – pulled from the rubble.

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The public prosecutors office of Pescara has opened investigations into the president of the Pescara province, Antonio Di Marco, town mayor Ilario Lacchetta, and hotel manager Bruno di Tommaso, according to a report in La Stampa.

Two employees of Pescara province and an employee of town authorities in Farindola also face investigation for culpable homicide.

Pescara prosecutors have been looking into the tragedy over the past three months, working to determine whether the deaths could have been prevented. Most of those killed in the avalanche died on impact, initial autopsy results said, though two hotel employees had apparently died of exposure.

Days after the tragedy, Italian media reported that the first calls for help from the hotel had been dismissed as a hoax by authorities. The first emergency vehicles did not reach the site until several hours after the avalanche.

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Photo: AFP