Red Cross teams battle blizzards to reach people cut off by snow after series of quakes in Italy

Published: 20 January 2017 21:25 CET

By Nichola Jones, IFRC


Snow mobiles, ambulances and emergency off-road vehicles have been sent by the Italian Red Cross to the quake-hit region of Abruzzo following a series of tremors that left at least three people dead and forced hundreds to evacuate.


Wednesday’s quakes, measuring five and above on the Richter scale, rocked the same region that has already faced several major earthquakes in the last five months.


Italian Red Cross President, Francesco Rocca said:


“We have 250 volunteers out in the worst-hit areas providing first aid, emergency supplies and psychological support to people who have already suffered a great deal of trauma in the last few months.


“The challenge is access – our teams were already working in the area to help communities cut off by heavy snow.  The earthquakes have made this much worse and seen many more people become isolated.”


Red Cross teams have been using sledges, snow scooters and 4x4 vehicles to reach towns and villages rendered unreachable since Wednesday.  They have been providing generators and fuel and have set up reception centres for those forced to leave their homes and are providing hot food.


Volunteers have also been supporting the emergency services who are at the scene of a major avalanche that engulfed a hotel as the search for survivors continues. Reports suggest 35 people are missing.


The Red Cross is working across the region including Amatrice town and L’Aquila city – two of the places badly damaged by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 300 people in August and was followed by two other major quakes in October.