Europe

The Latest: Reports of helicopter down near avalanche zone

  • This picture made available on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 by the Italian Mountain Rescue Service 'Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico' (CNSAS) shows an excavator at the site of the avalanche-buried Hotel Rigopiano, near Farindola. Italy. The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy climbed to 14 on Tuesday as hopes began to fade that any of the 15 people still missing might be found alive under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble. (Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico/ANSA via AP)

    This picture made available on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 by the Italian Mountain Rescue Service 'Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico' (CNSAS) shows an excavator at the site of the avalanche-buried Hotel Rigopiano, near Farindola. Italy. The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy climbed to 14 on Tuesday as hopes began to fade that any of the 15 people still missing might be found alive under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble. (Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico/ANSA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • The coffin of Alessandro Giancaterino, one of the victims of the avalanche which buried the Hotel Rigopiano, is shoulder carried prior to the start of the funeral service in Farindola, central Italy,Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2017. The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy climbed to 14 on Tuesday as hopes began to fade that any of the 15 people still missing might be found alive under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    The coffin of Alessandro Giancaterino, one of the victims of the avalanche which buried the Hotel Rigopiano, is shoulder carried prior to the start of the funeral service in Farindola, central Italy,Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2017. The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy climbed to 14 on Tuesday as hopes began to fade that any of the 15 people still missing might be found alive under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • This picture made available on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 by the Italian Mountain Rescue Service 'Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico' (CNSAS) shows a car piled in the snow by a cleared road by the site of the avalanche-buried Hotel Rigopiano, near Farindola. Italy. The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy climbed to 14 on Tuesday as hopes began to fade that any of the 15 people still missing might be found alive under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble. (Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico/ANSA via AP)

    This picture made available on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 by the Italian Mountain Rescue Service 'Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico' (CNSAS) shows a car piled in the snow by a cleared road by the site of the avalanche-buried Hotel Rigopiano, near Farindola. Italy. The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy climbed to 14 on Tuesday as hopes began to fade that any of the 15 people still missing might be found alive under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble. (Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico/ANSA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on rescue efforts at Italian hotel struck by an avalanche (all times local):

1 p.m.

Italy's civil protection agency says it's checking reports of a helicopter being down in central Abruzzo, though it's not clear if it's involved in the avalanche operation.

RAI state television said the helicopter was ferrying someone injured from a nearby ski area in Campo Felice.

Ornella De Luca of the civil protection agency says it received information of an incident involving an emergency helicopter, but that it wasn't clear what was involved.

___

8:20 a.m.

The death toll from an avalanche in central Italy has climbed to 12, with 17 people still missing under a mountain resort buried by tons of snow and rubble.

Firefighters located five more bodies overnight and the search was continuing Tuesday in hopes that someone might still be alive six days after the disaster. Rescue crews were buoyed by the discovery Monday of three of the Hotel Rigopiano's resident puppies, though they stressed that the white sheepdogs were found in a boiler room far from where the missing are thought to be.

The first funerals will be held Tuesday.

Prosecutors are investigating whether a series of missed communications, underestimations of risks and delays in responding to days of heavy snowfall contributed to the toll from the Jan. 18 avalanche.