Turkey: Avalanche buries search team, 33 killed

So far 53 people reported injured from avalanche, search and rescue efforts ongoing, say authorities

Cemal Asan   | 05.02.2020
Turkey: Avalanche buries search team, 33 killed


Death toll rose to 33 after rescue workers were buried under an avalanche in eastern Turkey, authorities said on Wednesday.

Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) reported the death toll from Wednesday's avalanche, adding, 53 people were injured in the disaster.

Mehmet Emin Bilmez, governor of the eastern Van province, said the deceased include civilians, gendarmes, village guards and fire fighters.

Bilmez said that the health conditions of nine of the rescued people were critical, while there was still no information on how many people are buried under the avalanche. 

The rescue team members had been searching for survivors from an earlier avalanche in eastern Turkey on Tuesday when they themselves were engulfed by snow. The number of casualties from the team is as yet unclear.

Bilmez told Anadolu Agency that intense search and rescue efforts are ongoing, and 15 ambulances were sent to the region.

Risk avalanche remained high, he added.

"AFAD and National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) members were engulfed in an avalanche while looking for those trapped under snow this morning," said Bilmez.

At least five people were killed in the avalanche on Tuesday. With seven people rescued, two people were still missing.

Tuesday’s avalanche took place in the Van’s Bahcesaray district during bad weather and struck a minibus traveling the Van-Bahcesaray highway.

Ringed by gigantic mountains, Bahcesaray frequently faces harsh winter conditions.

* Writing by Sibel Morrow and Dilara Hamit.

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