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Massive avalanche hits rescue team on Turkish mountain

At least five people were killed in an avalanche in Van on Tuesday, with two people still missing.

The governor of Van province, Mehmet Emin Bilmez, said rescue teams - including specially trained dogs - had been sent to the region to help free those trapped and clear the area.

Wednesday's avalanche increased the overall death toll from the disaster to 17.

The second avalanche struck Wednesday as the rescuers were searching for the two missing victims, NTV news reported, adding that fog and heavy snow were hampering the rescue efforts. They included eight military police officers and three government-paid village guards.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry said 30 people had been rescued.

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Bilmez noted that the condition of nine of the rescued people was critical, while there was still no information on how many people are buried under the avalanche.

A score of Turkish search and rescue team members who were caught in an avalanche Wednesday have been saved, but several died, said authorities. Some rescuers were climbing a steep incline to get out of the mass of snow while others dug frantically into the snow with shovels and pick-axes.

At least five people were killed in an avalanche in Van on February 4, with two people still missing. The vehicle's operator and seven passengers escaped alive, according to Reuters.

The minibus operator, Bahattin Karagulle, was trapped beneath the snow for some 25 minutes before he managed to break a window and escape yesterday.



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