By Karen Mizoguchi / People.com
January 24, 2017
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

This story originally appeared on People.com.

Three puppies were found five days after an avalanche was triggered by earthquakes in Farindola, Italy on Jan. 18.

Fire brigade team members rescued the white Abruzzo sheepdog litter on Monday from Hotel Rigopiano, a destroyed Italian hotel that was engulfed in up to 16 feet of snow and more than 50,000 tons of snow and debris.

The puppies were found in an air pocket in the hotel’s boiler room.

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“They just started barking very softly,” Sonia Marini, one of the emergency workers, told the Associated Press. “In fact, it was hard to find them right away because they were hidden. Then we heard this very tiny bark and we saw them from a little hole the firefighters had opened in the wall. Then we expanded the hole and we pulled them out.”

The puppies were born in December to Lupo and Nuvola, the two sheepdogs that lived at the hotel. Both escaped when the avalanche hit and were found the following day in a nearby hamlet.

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Firefighter Fabio Jerman explained that the discovery of the puppies means there might still be air pockets for the 23 guests and workers who remain missing. “[This is] an important sign of life, which gives us hope,” Jerman told the Agence France-Presse.

However, on the same day, the body of a woman was recovered from the rubble, bringing the number of casualties to seven.

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“We are fighting against time,” firefighter spokesman Luca Cari told the Associated Press. “We know we need to work fast, but in relation to an environment that doesn’t allow for fast intervention.”

Eleven people have been rescued since last Wednesday. Nine of them were pulled from the snow on Saturday, including four children.

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