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Italian PM admits delays in avalanche response

Italy's prime minister has acknowledged delays and "malfunctioning" in the country's response to the avalanche that buried a mountain hotel - but said it is wrong to try to find scapegoats now.

In a briefing to parliament, Paolo Gentiloni said the government does not fear the truth and that criminal investigations will ascertain responsibilities.

But he said such investigations are not meant "to poison the well".

He said he shares the search for truth but not the scapegoating that has begun.

Audio recordings of an emergency call have shown how the first alarms about the avalanche were brushed off by the Pescara prefect's office, which assured the caller the hotel was fine.

Twenty-four people died in the January 18 disaster at the Hotel Rigopiano in Italy's central Abruzzo region. Five remain under the rubble.

Rescue crews recovered several more bodies from the rubble on Wednesday, even as they mourned colleagues who were killed in a nearby helicopter crash.

The emergency helicopter slammed into a mountainside buried in thick fog 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 onboard had been working at the avalanche site about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away up until Monday.

AP

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