33 killed in second avalanche in Turkey’s Van province

World Faizah Kamal 05-Feb-2020
Turkey mountain avalanche
ID 72255158 © Ganna Poltoratska | Dreamstime.com

An avalanche slammed into a mountain road in the Turkey’s eastern province of Van on February 5, wiping out a huge team of rescue workers sent to find two people missing in an earlier avalanche.

At least 33 people, including security officers, were killed and 53 others were injured.

Among those who died were at least eight gendarmerie personnel, three security guards, three firefighters, and nine civilians, according to Van’s Governor, Mehmet Emin Bilmez.

Bilmez added that intense search and rescue efforts were ongoing, and 15 more ambulances were sent to the region amid the risk of new avalanches occurring.

Bahçesaray’s Mayor, Meki Arvas, said a team of 300 people had been working to rescue people who trapped under snow in an earlier snowslide on February 4, as a result of the second avalanche that had occurred at on February 5 at 12:02 p.m.

At least five people were killed in the first avalanche on February 4, officials said. It took place in Van’s Bahçesaray district, during bad weather and striking a minibus that was travelling along the Van-Bahçesaray highway.

A score of Turkish search and rescue team members who were engulfed by snow were rescued in a short space of time. Interior Minister, Süleyman Soylu, said 30 team members were taken to hospital.

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

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said that 59 of its search and rescue experts were dispatched to the area initially. It added that a gendarmerie team of 75 rescue experts, 10 National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) members and firefighters accompanied them.