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Six people have been found alive after an avalanche hit an Italian resort, trapping dozens

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UPDATE 7:20 a.m. EST Jan. 20:

Six people have been found alive in the rubble of the Hotel Rigopiano ski resort, Italian officials said. Rescuers are still working to save them from the snow. 

Crews have been digging by hand. At least 30 people were believed to have been trapped by the snow. 

ORIGINAL STORY: An avalanche hit central Italy on Wednesday after a powerful earthquake struck the region, leaving at least 30 people missing.

When rescuers arrived at the Hotel Rigopiano in the Abruzzo region, only two people were found alive. One of the survivors, Giampaolo Parete, said he had gone outside to get something from his car, but his wife and children were buried inside. 

The region had seen heavy snowfall, more than three feet in some areas, hindering rescue efforts.

Help. We're dying of cold.
A couple hit by the avalanche, to rescuers

Avalanche survivors sent text messages to emergency services, saying many were trapped inside.

One message said the hotel's walls were knocked down and survivors could only see "a wall of snow." 

Six people have been found alive after an avalanche hit an Italian resort, trapping dozens

WATCH | This video shows how devastated the hotel was. 

Here's another look at the damage and an aerial view of what's left of the hotel. 

The rescue efforts could be very dangerous given the snowy conditions.

Six people have been found alive after an avalanche hit an Italian resort, trapping dozens

WATCH | Here's another look at the harsh weather rescuers are facing.

A history of quakes

Central Italy has been hit by several powerful earthquakes in recent months. One earthquake in August killed nearly 300 people, and another earthquake hit Wednesday. However, it's not yet clear if that earthquake triggered the avalanche. 

The hotel posted on Facebook that its phone lines were out at about 9 a.m. local time Wednesday.

Here's the last post since the avalanche hit. 

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