Successive avalanches hit same spot, killing 33 and burying dozens of rescuers in Turkey
The second avalanche buried rescue workers attending the scene in east Turkey.
February 5, 2020, 2:50 PM
4 min read
A major rescue operation is under way after two avalanches hit the same location in eastern Turkey, trapping a team of rescue workers dispatched to deal with the initial avalanche.
Rescue workers were sent to recover two missing people after an avalanche hit a minibus and a snowplow near the city of Van, knocking it down the side of the mountain. When the workers arrived on the scene, a second avalanche fell killing at least 33 and injuring 53. Authorities have now been alerted to the possibility of a third avalanche in the region as well.
Dramatic footage from the scene shows the rescue team scrambling to recover the submerged minivan deep in the snow just moments before the second avalanche struck.
Among those who were buried was the Chief of the Van City Rescue Workers (AFAD) association, Osman Ucar, who has now been rescued and been taken to hospital.
A statement made by AFAD confirmed that the “avalanche hit for the second time in 24 hours between Bahçesaray and Çatak districts.”
“[The] second avalanche fell on today, on the teams working to save our citizens who were under avalanche yesterday,” the statement said.
A total of 153 search and rescue personnel, 28 ambulances and 17 rescue vehicles have been sent to the region to offer assistance. 30 people have been rescued so far, according to according to Süleyman Soylu, the Turkish Minister of the Interior.
“The number of people who lost their lives may increase,” Fahrettin Koca, the Minister of Health said in a statement. “We estimate that the number of injured people may increase as well.”
The disaster struck just weeks after a strong earthquake rocked Eastern Turkey, a few hour drive west of Van, that injured over 1,000 people and left more than 25 people dead.