13 migrants in Turkey’s east froze to death in snowstorm

World Faizah Kamal 10-Feb-2020
ID 106757653 © Radila Radilova | Dreamstime.com

Turkish search and rescue teams have been dispatched to a remote zone near the Iranian border to save at least 13 migrants. The migrants have been stranded due to heavy snowstorms and freezing temperatures.

The governor’s office in Turkey’s Van province received a report stating that 13 irregular migrants froze to death shortly after they entered a mountainous area of the Çaldıran district from Iran.

Search and rescue teams of gendarmerie and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) were sent to the area, said a statement from the governor’s office on February 10.

The Tendürek mountain pass on the road connecting the districts of Çaldıran and Doğubeyazıt was closed to traffic due to a heavy snowstorm, it added.

Some 160 village roads and 200 hamlet roads across Van province were blocked by masses of snow.

Another group of undocumented migrants were rescued in a five-hour operation by the gendarmerie officers in the district of Gevaş. The group of migrants, consisting of 49 Afghan nationals, managed to contact the officers when they began suffering from hypothermia. They were all hospitalised.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who aim to reach Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing from war and persecution.

In 2019, more than 454,500 irregular migrants were held in Turkey, according to the Interior Ministry. The migrants included Syrian, Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Turkmen, Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Indian, Algerian, Somali, Ghanaian, Yemeni, Palestinian, Eritrean and Nigerian nationals.

The Turkish meteorology authority announced that temperatures would float between -12 and -19 degrees Celsius in the Çaldıran district and between -8 and -13 in the Bahçesaray district.