Italy Avalanche: Survivors Recount Disaster, Rescued After 58 HOURS

Sergei Poljak | | AvalancheAvalanche
Avalanche debris almost completely destroyed the interior of the resort. Photo: SBS
Avalanche debris almost completely destroyed the interior of the resort. Photo: SBS

Georgia Galassi, 22, is an Italian student and was one of the nine survivors rescued from the buried hotel Rigopiano thus far. Five days after the massive avalanche in the Abruzzo Region of Italy, search crews are still on the hunt for survivors. As time passes, it becomes increasingly unlikely that persons trapped will be found alive. As of Jan 22nd, nine have been found alive, five dead, and 24 still missing.  

The hotel before and after:

hotel before

hotel after

Georgia’s account of the 58 hours in which she, her fiance and a few others huddled in the darkness is a poignant example of the beautiful humanity that can arise from tragedy. 

Georgia’s first thought was that the hotel had somehow been blasted into the Earth. In fact, it was insulated by many, many tons of snow – 120,000 tons to be exact. The lobby where they sat seconds before was now effectively an underground cavern, akin to a deep mine shaft. They did not know if their darkness would ever be penetrated.

“Everything crumbled and I could not understand a thing. It was pitch dark. Not a sound came from outside. Our voices echoed. I lost count of time, and still haven’t got it back. But I think it lasted two days, maybe a bit more.”

– Georgia Galassi

After a few minutes, the survivors were able to find and comfort each other. Georgia described how the children were so well behaved, and never cried, although she herself shed tears many times.

She was also very praiseworthy of her fiance, whom she said never lost hope and dedicated himself to improving the mood of his fiance and their companions. “He supported us all. Sometimes he would hum a song to soothe us,” she stated afterward.

The victims had nothing to eat, although there was plenty of ice for hydration. Finally, on Friday night, they heard mechanical sounds and human voices.

Georgia replied, “I am Georgia, and I am alive.” It was the most beautiful thing she had ever said.

Map showing Hotel Rigopiano, Italy that was buried in snow.
Map showing Hotel Rigopiano, Italy that was buried in snow.

Let us not forget that rescue crews walked all night through a snowstorm to reach the buried resort. We hope that more will miraculously survive this unimaginable event.

 


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