Eight survivors rescued from Italian hotel buried by avalanche

Helicopters were called to ferry the survivors to hospital once they were dug out

Eight survivors rescued from Italian hotel buried by avalanche

A view of the mountains' crest in the area of Rigopiano, central Italy, where a hotel has been buried under an avalanche on Wednesday. Picture by Gregorio Borgia AP/Press Association Images

Eight people - including two young girls - have been rescued from an Italian hotel buried in an avalanche on Wednesday, according to rescuers.

Police and fire crews say there are indications that there are other survivors under the rubble.

Italian firefighter Giuseppe Romano said: "Other people have responded to our signals."

Those already rescued were found in the kitchen area of the Hotel Rigopiano and police say the discovery has given the rescue effort a massive boost.

They had been trapped in the hotel for more than 40 hours.

Helicopters were called to ferry the survivors to hospital once they were dug out.

The first two to be brought out were a boy wearing blue ski trousers and a matching shirt, and a woman with a long ponytail wearing red ski trousers.

Rescuers cheered "brava brava" as she was brought to the surface.

Up to 30 people were reported missing after the avalanche buried the hotel in the Abruzzo region in central Italy.

So far four dead bodies have also been found.

The four-star hotel is in a remote, mountainous region and rescuers had to use skis to reach the scene.

The Hotel Rigopiano in 2014 | Image: Google/Hotel Rigopiano

The main road was blocked by heavy snow and gaining access has proved extremely difficult.

Temperatures have remained below zero.

Four powerful earthquakes struck the region on Wednesday but it is unclear whether any of these triggered the avalanche just hours later.

The 300-metre wide snow slide uprooted trees and wiped out parts of the four-storey hotel, trapping dozens of people.

Two people escaped the avalanche as they had been outside when disaster struck.

Survivor Giampaolo Parete reportedly told doctors he had left the hotel to fetch something from his car, but his wife and two children were still inside.

The 38-year-old chef called his boss, restaurant owner Quintino Marcella, for help, saying: "The hotel isn't there anymore. It's disappeared. It's buried."

Mr Marcella criticised the response, claiming no one took him seriously when he alerted authorities.

Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation.