Second Turkey avalanche buries dozens of rescuers

Two avalanches have killed at least 38 people in eastern Turkey, many of them rescue workers who were looking for survivors of the first incident.

The first slide on Tuesday killed five people, while at least 33 others were buried by the second avalanche in Van province on Wednesday.

It is unclear how many people remain buried under the snow.

Images showed dozens of people using shovels and sticks in snowfall and high winds, digging to reach victims.

At least two military aircraft have been sent from the capital, Ankara, carrying 75 gendarmerie officers and other rescue officials.

Soldiers and locals from Bahcesaray have also joined the rescue efforts, which are being led by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (Afad).

Map showing the location of Van province in eastern Turkey

Speaking at a ceremony in Turkey’s central Kirikkale province, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that at least 33 people had died. “May they rest in peace,” he said.

Van province governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez said police officers, firefighters and volunteer rescuers were among the dead. Officials say the death toll may still rise.

The interior ministry reports that 30 people rescued are being treated in hospital. One of them is Osman Ucar, the head of Afad’s Van office.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said work was being hampered by conditions in the area, with one rescue vehicle having to be pulled out from under 5m (16ft) of snow.

Officials were alerted to the first avalanche by a man who escaped after his snow-clearing vehicle was buried under snow.

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