UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Dozens of people were killed in snow collapses Tuesday and Wednesday in eastern Turkey, and the bulk of the victims of the second collapse were rescue men sent to search for survivors of the first accident at the same site.
A snowfall occurred on Tuesday evening in the joy of Sarai in Wan province, which led to the burying of a minibus carrying about 15 passengers. The death toll reached five dead, eight wounded and two missing, according to the local authorities.
After the disaster, about 300 paramedics and villagers arrived at the site to search for survivors, and a second snowfall occurred around noon Wednesday at the same site, while searches were ongoing.
The Governmental Disaster Authority reported that 33 people, including several paramedics, were killed and 53 injured in the second avalanche, raising the toll of the two disasters to 38 dead and 61 injured.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also announced the death of 33 people, extending his condolences to the families of the victims in a speech in Kerikale in the center of the country.
And the Turkish media broadcast scenes showing the mechanisms of huge tires equipped to walk in the snow overturned by the force of the avalanche.
Dozens of paramedics were digging in the snow by shovels in search of survivors, while a blizzard blew vision and made it difficult to reach.
Teams from the Disaster Authority, elements of the gendarmerie and firefighting teams participated in the search operations with the support of a number of the inhabitants of the villages of the region, according to the Turkish media.
Scenes carried by television stations showed survivors carried on suspenders pulled into the snow.
The Ministry of Defense said that a military plane took off from Ankara in the afternoon, heading to Wan, which is transporting specialized mechanisms and 85 medics and gendarmes to join the ongoing search operations.
– rough terrain –
Turkish Health Minister Fakhruddin Kuja warned that the toll may rise further, as it is not yet known how many people are trapped under the snow.
The region where the two avalanches occurred is a mountainous region in the far east of Turkey, difficult to reach and experiencing harsh weather in winter.
The first snowfall was washed away by a construction machinery mechanism, from which the driver was able to get out and report the disaster.
Search operations were halted Tuesday evening due to bad weather, before resuming on Wednesday morning, according to the Ministry of Interior.
Turkey is especially known for its sandy coastline, and it also has rugged mountainous areas. Some villages in the east and north-east are cut off every winter from the rest of the world due to heavy snowfall.
Many tourists visit Wan each year, known for its historical heritage, its lake and its white cats.
The US embassy in Turkey offered its condolences to the families of the victims in a tweet.
The European Union’s ambassador to Ankara, Christian Perret, also expressed his condolences and sent a message of support to the paramedics in a statement.
The two avalanches occurred ten days after a powerful earthquake killed 41 people in the Alazig province in eastern Turkey as well.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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