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Avalanche kills at least 33, leaves others trapped in eastern Turkey

The team of rescue workers sent to find two people missing in an earlier avalanche.

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By Reuters and Aziz Akyavas

ISTANBUL, Turkey — An avalanche in eastern Turkey killed at least 33 people and injured more than 50, including military police and civilians who were working to rescue victims of an earlier snowslide, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Earlier, Mehmet Emin Bilmez, governor of the eastern province of Van, said some 30 people had been pulled out from under the snow.

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

Emergency service members carry a casualty at the site of avalanche near the town of Bahcesehir, in Van province, eastern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.Yilmaz Sonmez / AP

TV footage from Van's Bahcesaray district showed dozens of people using shovels and sticks in snowfall and high winds to dig out buried vehicles, and other overturned vehicles.

Soylu said the conditions in the area made it difficult for rescue vehicles to operate, adding a vehicle had been pulled out from under 4-5 meters (16 feet) of snow.

Rescue teams were working to rescue people trapped under an earlier avalanche that struck on Tuesday, killing five people. Eight people were rescued from that avalanche and the second snowslide occurred as teams were searching for two others.