Many people are feared dead after an avalanche hit a hotel in Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain in the country’s central Abruzzo region on Thursday.

Local media quoted rescue team leaders saying they feared many casualties.

Fabrizio Curcio, Italy’s Director General of Civil Protection, said there were up to 30 people in the Rigopiano hotel at the time of the avalanche.

“We know that there are 20 guests and 10 employees residing at the hotel,” Curcio said. “Our teams are continuing their efforts despite the tough conditions.”

Curcio also said two people who had informed the authorities about the avalanche had been rescued.

The avalanche is thought to have been caused by an earthquake which shook the mountainous region of on Wednesday.

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