More than 40 hours after a deadly avalanche buried Rigopiano Hotel in central Italy, rescue crews managed to pull out 4 survivors amidst cheers from firefighters. Firefighter spokesman Luca Cari stated that a total of 10 survivors, including three children, had been located. Four survivors were pulled out of the ruins on Friday, a woman, two girls and a young boy. They had reportedly taken refuge under a broken piece of the ceiling where they managed to stay warm after lighting a fire. The mayor confirmed that at the time of the Avalanche there were 24 guests and 12 employees at the hotel.

Officials said a total of four bodies had been removed from the site. Rescuers are still searching for 20 more people who are still missing.

The Associated Press news agency spoke with hospital officials who said that other than the symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration, the four survivors were in good health.

Earthquakes and snow storms cause of avalanche

Officials say that on Wednesday, 4 earthquakes with magnitudes over 5 in the area followed by a heavy snow storm were what probably triggered the avalanche. Guests were reportedly waiting in the lobby for evacuation instructions when the avalanche struck the hotel and completely buried it in snow. Some reports say that the force of the snow was so hard, it caused part of the roof to collapse and shifted the hotel 10 meters from its foundation.

Rescuers could only reach the site by skiing and shovelling their way after having been dispatched hours earlier, according to reports.

Why didn't authorities respond fast enough?

According to the BBC, a worker phoned his employer Quintino Marcella to notify him of the avalanche. Marcella said that he contacted authorities who initially did not believe him.

He stated that he continued calling for two hours until officials said they were sending help. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni stated that Italy has seen an "unprecedented vice" of earthquakes and heavy snow storms which it "hasn't seen in decades."

"Rescuers are still trying to get to other areas isolated by the avalanche," Gentiloni said.