Five days after an avalanche decimated a luxury Italian mountain hotel, rescuers pulled three tiny miracles from the icy rubble.
Three snow-white puppies were found alive in the ruins of Abruzzos Hotel Rigopiano in Central Italy on Monday, bringing new hope that the 22 people who remain missing may still be alive in air pockets.
Its a race against time. We know we need to go fast, but its not an easy working environment, Luca Cari, a fire service spokesman, told The Guardian.
The same day the puppies were found, rescue officials pulled a womans body from the rubble, bringing the death toll to seven, The Associated Press reported.
The sheepdogs had been found in the hotels boiler room after firefighters heard soft barking coming from behind a wall, Sonia Marini, a member of the State Forestry Corps, told the AP.
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, she said.
At first glance, the pups appeared to be in very good health, the BBC quoted one rescuer as saying.
The puppies are reportedly only a month old and were born to the hotels resident sheepdogs, Nuvola and Lupo, who were able to escape the avalanche.
More than 30 people were inside the hotel when it was pummeled by the avalanche, officials said.