Avalanche death toll up as more bodies found

PENNE, Italy (CBS News) — Rescue crews recovered several more bodies from the rubble of the hotel crushed by an avalanche Wednesday, bringing the toll to 23, as they mourned colleagues who were killed in a nearby helicopter crash.

The emergency helicopter slammed into a mountainside on Tuesday as its crew was rescuing an injured skier. The two pilots, three crew members and the skier were killed.

Some of the rescue team on board had been working at the avalanche site about 60 miles away up until Monday. Bodies were brought down in sleds to waiting snowcats. The area is in Abruzzo, the same mountainous region where emergency crews have been working around the clock to recover victims of the powerful Jan. 18 avalanche that crushed a hotel.

The death toll in the disaster at the Hotel Rigopiano stands at 23 dead, with 6 people unaccounted for trapped under the tons of snow and rubble. Search operations continued Wednesday.

Premier Paolo Gentiloni will brief parliament later Wednesday on the series of earthquakes, heavy snowfall and the avalanche that have pummelled central Italy in recent days and weeks, and the round-the-clock response by civil protection, firefighter and emergency crews.

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