(NBC) - There was an encouraging sign of hope for emergency crews digging into an avalanche-slammed hotel in Italy on Monday.
Rescuers found three puppies alive under the debris, and they appeared to be in good condition.
The puppies survived for days under tons of snow, giving crews new hope for the 23 people still missing in the disaster.
A firefighter spokesman said the puppies show that conditions under the snow could still support life.
It's been five days since the avalanche plowed into the hotel in central Italy.
Emergency crews are hoping that the missing people may have found air pockets under the debris, and that the snow itself had insulated them from the frigid temperatures.
So far nine people have been rescued alive from the hotel and six people have died.
The first survivors were released Monday from the hospital.
Rescue crews are digging by hand and with shovels and chainsaws in hopes of finding more survivors.
Courtesy: NBC News Channel