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All bodies recovered from Italy's avalanche-hit hotel

Rescue workers have pulled out all bodies trapped inside the rubble of a collapsed hotel in central Italy, bringing the death toll to 29. Last week, an avalanche struck the hotel after a powerful quake shook the region.

On January 18, a 120,000-ton mass of snow slammed into the four-star Rigopiano Hotel following a magnititde-5 earthquake. About 30 people, including a number of children, were thought to have been in the spa hotel in the Gran Sasso National Park when it was struck by the avalanche, burying it under five meters (16.4 feet) of snow.

Eleven people survived the catastrophe, including four children and two adults who were outside the hotel at the time the avalanche struck the three-storey building.

Rescue crews found 10 survivors in the rubble two days after the resort was flattened.

Italian prosecutors are considering possible manslaughter charges over the deaths in the hotel amid accusations that the avalanche threat was not taken seriously enough and emergency services were slow to respond. The first rescuers reached the site some 11 hours after the incident.

Investigators are also examining how the hotel was allowed to expand, state prosecutor Cristina Tedeschini said.

Formerly a mountain hut at an altitude of 1,200 meters in Italy's picturesque Apennine Mountains, the Rigopiano Hotel was turned into a four-star hotel and spa in the early 1970s.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said his government was not shying away from responsibility.

"I don't share this rising desire for scapegoats and avengers, because history is quick to turn the avengers into scapegoats," Gentiloni told the Senate.

The government has allocated four billion euros (4.3 billion dollars) to earthquake relief and reconstruction in central Italy, which suffered a series of tremors last year.

shs/rc  (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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