Soldiers, Firefighters Among 28 Dead in Avalanches

Rescuers were searching for 2 people missing in earlier avalanche when another struck
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2020 9:25 AM CST
While Looking for Avalanche Survivors, They Were Buried
Emergency service members dig in the snow around at least three overturned vehicles near the town of Bahcesehir in eastern Turkey on Wednesday.   (DHA via AP)

One disaster has followed another in eastern Turkey, where rescuers are among at least 28 people killed in two avalanches. The first struck late Tuesday in an alpine area of Van province, burying a snow plow and a minibus, reports the AP. The bus operator was reportedly trapped for 25 minutes before he was able to free himself and walk in search of help. Of the van's 14 passengers, at least five were killed, seven escaped alive, and two could not be found, per the New York Times and Reuters. Indeed, rescuers were still searching for the pair around noon Wednesday when another avalanche struck near Bahcesehir, killing at least 23 people.

Provincial Gov. Mehmet Emin Bilmez said eight soldiers, three firefighters, three village guards, and nine civilians were among the victims. He added others might still be buried and that more avalanches were possible. Another 30 emergency workers were hospitalized, including the provincial head of the country's disaster management group and a former adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, per the Times. One vehicle had been buried in up to 16 feet of snow, per Reuters. Footage from the scene showed at least three vehicles overturned at the bottom of a steep slope, where people were digging with shovels and sticks. (Read more avalanche stories.)

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