Pope to meet avalanche hotel victims' families

Pope to meet avalanche hotel victims' families

Pope Francis will on Wednesday receive relatives of the 29 people who died when an avalanche struck a ski hotel in central Italy in January after a series of strong earthquakes, an association for the victims said.

"To be in the Holy Father's presence has a very special meaning for us: these past for four months have been extremely hard," the Committee for the Victims of the Rigopiano Hotel stated.

Families of the victims have had to grieve for their loved ones, battle "total abandonment" by Italy's institutions and fight for justice since the 18 January avalanche at the Rigopiano Hotel in Italy's Abuzzo region, the association said.

"We truly hope that Francis will bring some peace and the strength needed to face the future with dignity," it said.

The mayor of the ski resort of Farindola, Ilario Lacchetta, the province of Pescara's president, Antonio Di Marco, the hotel's manager Bruno Di Tommaso, and three local officials are being probed over the disaster, prosecutors in Pescara said in April.

The suspects face charges of multiple manslaughter and negligence said the prosecutors.

Lacchetta and several other defendants are launching legal proceedings against the Abruzzo region over the tragedy, on the grounds that it failed to implement a 2014 law requiring the identification of sites at risk of an avalanche.