According to reports, after earthquakes hit the region, hotel guests were gathered on the ground floor of the hotel awaiting evacuation. It was then that the avalanche struck, causing part of the hotel’s roof to collapse and moving the building 10 metres (33 feet) down the mountain.
At the time of writing, the death toll stands at 14, while 15 people remain unaccounted for. Rescuers say that there is still a faint hope that some of the missing people could still be alive.
Firefighters are currently trying to punch a hole through a concrete wall into the hotel bar. "We are working on the theory that the avalanche did not necessarily hit or destroy every room and that we haven't yet reached the heart of the structure," said spokesman Luca Cari.
Authorities have been criticised for not evacuating the hotel sooner. The avalanche struck sometime between 16:30 (15:30 GMT) and 17:40 on Wednesday, when the first known appeal for help was made, but it reportedly took until 20:00 before pleas were acted on by the authorities.
Prosecutors are investigating whether the avalanche threat was taken seriously enough and if the hotel should have been evacuated given the forecasts.