About 38 killed as two avalanches strike Turkey; rescue operations hindered
At least 38 people are reported to have been killed and over a dozen feared to be trapped after two avalanches struck Turkey’s eastern border with Iran on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday evening when the first avalanche hit the Van province in Bahcesaray district in eastern Turkey, eight people were rescued and five lost their lives and two got trapped in the snow. The country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority sent about 100 rescue workers to rescue the people on Wednesday when the second avalanche struck around mid-day.
The rescuers along with several volunteer civilians who were helping at the site also got trapped and 14 of them were reported to be killed.
Television footage taken from the site showed people using shovels and sticks in snowfall and high wings attempting to dig out buried vehicles.
Governor of the Eastern Province of Van, Mehmet Emin Bilmez said that about 30 people had been pulled out of the snow, but many are believed to be still trapped. The vehicles that were recovered were found to be stuck as deep as 16-feet under the snow.
The news was also confirmed by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu who said that the rescue operation was getting hindered due to the adverse and unpredictable weather conditions and concerns over a possible third avalanche. The rescue operation involved a total of over 700 personnel and the rescue operation will continue on Thursday if the weather conditions permit.