Rescuers combing the wreckage of an Italian hotel in a bid to find survivors of a devastating avalanche detected no signs of life overnight, officials said Sunday.
As the painstaking rescue operation entered a fourth day, firefighters and mountain rescue experts again had to battle extreme weather conditions as they tried to locate the 23 people thought to be trapped under a vast pile of snow and the mangled ruins of the Hotel Rigopiano.
Nine people have been pulled alive from the rubble since rescuers first reached the remote hotel in the mountains of central Italy early on Thursday.
All of them were located on Friday and no other potential survivors have been identified since then.
But with scores of them working round the clock, the rescuers were refusing to give up hope that more people could still be clinging to life somewhere under the wreckage.
Five bodies have been recovered so far and there were two other survivors who were outside the hotel when the avalanche struck at nightfall on Wednesday.
It followed a series of powerful earthquakes in the region earlier in the day and some 36 hours of heavy snow.