Apartment block blasted by avalanche

PHOTO CREDIT: Gazzetta del Sud

ROME - The latest in a series of cold-weather battles in the north of Italy, an avalanche hit an apartment building in the town of Sestriere, near Turin, late Monday.

 Fortunately, according to rescue services, no one was hurt and 29 residents, including several children, are being hosted in hotels.

 The local council of the Alpine town is reportedly paying the cost of the hotel bill, as the apartment has been declared unfit for access.

 The northern regions of the country are under high alert for avalanches as over two metres of snow has fallen over the past two days. The regional environmental protection agency ARPA said Monday that the threat of avalanches in the northwestern region of Piedmont was "very strong" and rated was rated at Level 5, the maximum, on the danger scale.