Alpine rescue teams are scrambling to find survivors of a huge avalanche that struck in Italy's Abruzzo region, burying a four star hotel on Wednesday.
Authorities said Thursday that dozens might be buried under the snow as rescuers battled blizzard-like conditions in a bid to pull survivors from the Hotel Rigopiano.
Photos taken from the air above the 4-story structure show it all but destroyed and buried.
"Around 30 people are unaccounted for, between guests and workers at the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola," Fabrizio Curcio, the head of Italy's civil protection department, told reporters.
According to the state news agency, at least two children are among the missing.
The first wave of rescuers on skis found just two people alive. One of them, 38-year-old Giampaolo Parete, told authorities he was alive merely by chance after going to retrieve something from his car just as the avalanche struck.
Parete said his wife and two children were inside the hotel when he left.
Inside the hotel, photos show snow filling hallways and blocking doors.
"Help, we're dying of cold," was one of multiple messages sent to rescuers by text message from inside the hotel. In another message, a man said he had escaped with a maintenance worker but that others were trapped inside.
The mountainous region has been plagued by quakes for months and multiple towns and city centers have been leveled since August, when 300 were killed.