23 rescuers killed by 2nd avalanche in eastern Turkey

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Eight rescue workers died in today's second landslide and at least 20 others are buried under the snow, local mayor Meki Arvas said.

About 300 rescue workers were at the site, near the eastern border with Iran, dealing with an earlier avalanche on Tuesday that killed five people.

Two avalanches within 18 hours in eastern Turkey have killed at least 31 people, a majority of them from a rescue team, officials and a disaster agency confirmed on Wednesday.

The second avalanche came down at around midday on Wednesday, burying rescue teams. When the workers arrived on the scene, a second avalanche fell killing at least 33 and injuring 53.

Turkish soldiers and locals try to rescue people trapped under snow in Bahcesaray, Van province, Turkey, on February 5, 2020.

Five people aboard the vehicle were killed, taking the overall toll to 38.

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The governor of Van, Mehmet Emin Bilmez, said 23 rescuers' bodies were recovered from the mass of snow on the steep slope.

Fog, heavy snow and strong winds were hampering the rescue efforts, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV.

More people are believed to be still trapped, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said earlier, without giving a number. Nine others are missing.

Dozens of rescue workers searched the area for additional survivors until about 1 a.m., then resumed the search on Wednesday morning in near-blizzard conditions. Six people were rescued while the driver of the snow-clearing vehicle managed to escape the avalanche at the last moment.

Bilmez told Anadolu Agency that intense search and rescue efforts are ongoing, and 15 ambulances were sent to the region.

The team was buried under the snow, with 26 fatalities reported, according to AFAD.

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