Last Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quake-triggered avalanche buries Rigopiano hotel in Abruzzo, Italy


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January 18, 2017: A series of four earthquakes rattled Central Italy between Abruzzo, Lazio, the Marche and Umbria regions triggering avalanche which buried the Rigopiano hotel in the Gran Sasso mountain near Farindola in the Abruzzo region.

Update January 19, 2017

According to the state-run news agency ANSA, at least three bodies have been pulled from the snow amid the slow search.

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First earthquake was of magnitude 5.3 which struck 25 km northwest of L’Aquila on 18 January at 10:25 local time. It was followed by a stronger 5.7 tremor at 11:14 local time. The third earthquake of magnitude 5.6 struck 11 minutes later. The fourth earthquake of magnitude 5.2 was registered at 14:33 local time.

The earthquake-triggered avalanche buried the Rigopiano hotel at a ski resort in central Italy, leaving up to 29 hotel guests and workers missing or dead.

Italy's Civil Protection department said overnight that it dispatched a team of 20 rescuers including seven firefighters, two mountain rescue teams and six ambulances. 

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquakes occurred as the result of shallow normal faulting on a NW-SE oriented fault (or faults) in the Central Apennines. 

The central Apennine region has experienced several significant earthquakes in recorded history. The largest instrumentally recorded earthquake within 100 km of the 2016-17 events was the January 13, 1915 M 6.7 earthquake.