Amid the desperation surrounding avalanche-struck Hotel Rigopiano in central Italy, there is hope.
Three Abruzzo sheepdog puppies were pulled out of the tonnes of snow and rubble Monday, encouraging rescuers searching for 22 people still missing, five days on from the disaster.
The trio of puppies were found in the hotel’s boiler room, with jubilant emergency crews carrying the pups in their arms.
One firefighter buried his face in the fluffy white fur of the dogs to give it a kiss.
“They just started barking very softly,” said Sonia Marini, a member of the Forestry Corps.
“In fact, it was hard to find them right away because they were hidden. Then we heard this very tiny bark and we saw them from a little hole the firefighters had opened in the wall. Then we expanded the hole and we pulled them out.”
The pups were born to the hotel’s resident sheepdogs, Nuvola and Lupo, who had managed to find their own way out following the avalanche last Wednesday.
While the sight of the puppies have lifted rescuers’ spirits, firefighter spokesperson Luca Cari stressed these puppies were found in an isolated part of the hotel and the discovery isn’t necessarily a positive sign for other rescues.
“We’re happy to have saved them, and these are important moments in a dramatic situation,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s much correlation with finding other people.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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