Turkey: Avalanche hits rescuers searching for earlier victims

Daniel Fowler
February 5, 2020

The governor of Van, Mehmet Emin Bilmez, said 23 rescuers' bodies were recovered from the mass of snow on the steep slope.

Eight rescue workers were killed by an avalanche in Turkey today as they went to find two people trapped by an earlier avalanche.

At least five people were killed in the first avalanche on February 4, officials said.

Arvas was quoted by broadcaster NTV as saying a rescue team of 300 people had been working to rescue those trapped from the avalanche that swept through the area on Tuesday night, killing five people.

Bilmez said at least two people may still be trapped, so search and rescue efforts are continuing.

The second avalanche came down at around midday on Wednesday, burying rescue teams.

"I was halfway buried in snow", he said. He did not provide a figure.

Turkey: Avalanche hits rescuers searching for earlier victims

A total of 153 search and rescue personnel, 28 ambulances and 17 rescue vehicles have been sent to the region to offer assistance. No further information on their health status were provided.

Video from the scene showed at least three overturned vehicles at the bottom of a hill during a snow storm.

Some rescuers were climbing a steep incline to get away from the mass of snow while others dug frantically into the snow with shovels and pick-axes.

Osman Ucar, head of AFAD's Van office, was hospitalized after being caught in the avalanche.

"I was half-buried", he said, adding that he escaped on his own.

The avalanches came less than two weeks after a deadly natural disaster in Turkey's central Elazig province killed 41 people and injured hundreds.

The operator of that vehicle, as well as seven passengers, managed to escape, the AP reported.

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