Italian rescuers find no sign of life

Rescuers have removed three bodies from a hotel engulfed by an avalanche in central Italy as a desperate search for up to 35 other people continues.

Heavy snow and disruption caused by multiple earthquakes have hindered rescue efforts in the rubble of the Rigopiano hotel, in the Abruzzo region.

Rescuers say they have heard nothing in the rubble while sniffer dogs are reportedly unable to locate victims.

Two people who were outside the hotel at the time of the avalanche survived.

Four earthquakes above magnitude five rocked central Italy on Wednesday, with tremors continuing into the night.

The quakes compounded problems resulting from snow and freezing weather, with power lines brought down and villages temporarily cut off.

Rescue operations are under way across central Italy and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the EU is ready to help.

What happened?

It appears the guests had gathered on the ground floor of the four-star spa hotel, close to the Gran Sasso mountain, to await evacuation following the earthquakes.

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