"He told me: "The hotel has collapsed" Marcella said in an interview with RAI state TV, adding that the local prefecture did not immediately believe him.
Rescuers broke into smiles when they plucked three seven week-old white puppies from the ravaged hotel's boiler room.
But finding more survivors is a "race against time", Luca Cari, a firefighter spokesman, told the Guardian, especially as conditions at the site are getting worse-heavy snow is now turning to ice, according to the AP.
The other bodies found so far have all been recovered and funerals for two of them - both employees of the hotel - were set to take place Tuesday. The total number of those rescued has hit 11, after a dramatic scene unfolded Friday, when four children were located and pulled to safety.
Their traumatic tales emerged as rescuers said on Monday morning they hoped to find some of the 23 people still unaccounted for, more than 48 hours after they last detected signs of life in the icy ruins.
More than 30 people, including four children, were in the building when the avalanche slammed into it, officials said, reducing much of it to rubble and spreading debris across the valley floor. A review of guest registries, interviews with survivors and hotel staff have helped authorities develop a better idea of how many people were at the hotel when the avalanche struck.
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Rescue teams managed to pull three puppies alive from the rubble of the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola which was destroyed in the huge onslaught of snow.
The first survivors were released on Monday from a hospital in the nearby city of Pescara.
"The hotel guests are terrorised by the earthquakes and have chose to stay out in the open", Bruno Di Tommaso wrote.
Italian media published an email sent by the hotel manager on January 18 to an array of local authorities, urging help to clear the roads so guests could escape after powerful earthquakes rattled the region. "We've tried to do everything to keep them calm, but since they can't leave due to the blocked roads, they're prepared to spend the night in their cars".
The Pescara prefect's office faced criticism after a local restaurant owner said his calls reporting the avalanche were ignored.
But she stressed they may not have had a significant effect on the search effort, given that five days had passed and still the search was ongoing.