|In the lobby of the avalanche-destroyed hotel in Italy|
a wall of snow and debris is seen pressing into the building
on the left.
The avalanche came after incredibly heavy snows hit the mountainous Abruzzo region of central Italy in recent days.
The area has also been hit by swarms of earthquakes in recent months. More earthquakes Wednesday apparently sent the deep snow hurtling down mountainsides.
Incredibly severe weather also hampered rescue operations. Drifts were reported to be 16 feet deep, and it took many hours for rescuers to reach the hotel through blizzard conditions.
Some of the avalanche victims might have survived the snow slide, but froze to death awaiting rescue.
Plus, some of the guests might have already left before the slide hit because they had checked out. However, they were still there when the avalanche hit, waiting at the hotel for crews to clear snow-blocked roads so they could leave, Reuters reported.
The Italy avalanche tragedy is the worst part of a brutal weather pattern that is causing misery in much of central and eastern Europe.
Another huge concern is the refugee crisis in the region combined with the harsh winter conditions.
Snow and freezing cold have hit normally temperate areas of southern Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Even before the latest blast of frigid weather hit this week, at least five refugees had died as of last week from the cold and many others suffered from frostbite and hypothermia, The Guardian reported.
Some refugees in Greece have been moved to warmer buildings, but many others in Greece and elsewhere are stuck in flimsy tents, unprotected from the cold.
|Refugees in Belgrade, Serbia try to wash clothes|
and themselves in hard winter conditons over
barrels filled with water and heated from below
with scraps of wood. Photo via Getty Images
In Serbia, women and children are mostly in warm shelters, but up to 1,200 men and unaccompanied boys are outdoors, unprotected as temperatures plunge into the single digits Fahrenheit.
Some countries, and people, are hostile to the refugees, and there are reports of police confiscating clothes and mobile phones from them, preventing them from calling for help or staying warm in the horrible weather.
This is beyond cruel. So-called humans have quite a capacity to destroy others, don't they?
No real relief is in sight as renewed cold and snow are due through the weekend in Greece, Italy, Turkey and the Baltic nations