Thirty people were reported missing presumed dead after the avalanche destroyed the hotel in central Italy on Wednesday afternoon, but rescue workers miraculously heard muffled shouting from under the snow and managed to pull a child to safety.
One young girl and one boy are among the survivors, along with three men and two women, who were discovered trapped under a slab of rock buried in the snow and journalists at the scene are reporting at least six of them have been extracted and taken to hospital.
Emergency medical helicopters have arrived and the process of getting the lucky survivors to a medical facility is underway.
A spokesman for the fire department, Luca Cari, said: "They are alive and we are talking to them. This is wonderful news. It brings a feeling of pure joy.
"Rescue workers are still working to extricate them.
"They will be taken immediately to hospital. It's truly a miracle. This will redouble the search efforts.
"We don't know how they survived in the cold or exactly where they were found in the hotel. But we couldn't wish for any better news."
Italian rescue workers unexpectedly found the boy alive in the wreckage
Rescue workers are at the scene of the avalanche and are searching the hotel
So far two bodies have been found and Italian news media said two other bodies have been located.
More than 7,000 people worked through the night in a bid to carve a path through the thick snow, which came hurtling down the mountain side after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake in the town of Farindola.
Italy avalanche: Devastating pictures after deadly avalanche
Thu, January 19, 2017
A devastating avalanche has hit a hotel in Italy, leaving up to 30 missing.
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An avalanche buried the Hotel Rigopiano in Abruzzo.
Rescuers are desperately trying to free the six survivors, which includes a little girl
This is the location of the Hotel Rigopiano
In places the snow was mounded 13ft high.
The number of survivors is expected to rise.
More to follow…