At least 38 people died Wednesday after an avalanche involving several rescue agents participating in a rescue mission, started after a first avalanche killed five victims a day earlier in the same region in eastern Turkey.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned that the death toll could increase. The number of people still stuck in the snow is not yet known exactly.
The victims of Wednesday participated in intervention operations to find possible survivors of the avalanche that occurred in the same place the day before when a minibus was covered with snow. Five people were killed and eight injured during that first avalanche.
After the first avalanche, dozens of gendarmes, firefighters, and disaster response officers of the Government Agency for Disaster Situations (AFAD), assisted by locals from neighboring villages, went to the scene to assist in finding survivors.
Searches were suspended overnight as a precautionary measure, before being resumed Wednesday morning.
The intervention agents were looking for two persons who had disappeared after the previous day’s avalanche, when a new avalanche occurred on Wednesday, around noon.
The two avalanches occurred in the district of Bahcesaray, in a town located in the extreme east of Turkey, where it is difficult to reach and where the climatic conditions are very harsh in winter.