33 dead in Turkey avalanche

Ankara—Wednesday: second avalanche killed 33 people, following the first one as rescuers were looking for people hit by the first one.
The bodies of 33 civilians and rescue workers were found in van province as they had been helping evacuate a minibus buried by snow, late Tuesday, AFAD the government’s disaster agency said.
Five people on the bus were killed, while the death toll rose to 38. Eight people had been saved from the first avalanche alive.
Footages showed many of the people climbed up the mountain, digging through snow to find out those trapped in snowstorms under the snow.
The number of injured was 53 in total, following the second avalanche between Bahcesaray and Catak districts around 0900 GMT, Said AFAD.
Fahrettin Koca cautioned that the death toll could rise as local media reported an unidentified number of persons could still be under the snow.
AFAd’s van province chairman Osman Ucar told reporters the rescuers have been searching for two people after Tuesday’s incident from his hospital bed.
He was one of the injured people along with Gulsen Orhan who was MP for the former ruling party and now counsels President Tayyip Erdogan.
Mehmet Emin Bilmeez, Van governor said, “rescue efforts continued despite the difficult winter conditions causing transport problems with heavy snow continuing to fall on the mountainside”.
Suleyman Soylu, the interior minister said, “rescuers had paused overnight and resumed their efforts on Wednesday morning to find the last two people”.
Milliyet reported, “Authorities were alerted to the first avalanche when snow-clearing vehicle operator Bahattin Karagulle escaped from his snow-covered machine and informed officials of what had happened”.
The AFAD agency sent several rescues of workers and gendarmerie officers and firefighters assisted.
According to local media, nearby residents helped rescue workers to reach the area in severe weather conditions.
A chartered military plane is set to Ankara carrying 75 gendarmerie officials and other rescue workers, the defense ministry and AFAD said.
The presidency said Erdogan speaks to Soylu regarding rescue efforts.
Ibrahim Kalin, the president’s spokesperson also said on twitter “every tool available was mobilized” to facilitate officials.
The European Union ambassador to Turkey, Christian Berger presented his “deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences”, just like the US embassy to turkey via twitter.
The eastern province of Elazig was struck by powerful magnitude earthquake 6.7, and killed 41 people with more than 1,600 injured.
An avalanche in 2009 in the northeast province of turkey killed 11 mountaineers in three Zigana mountains.–Worldwide News

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