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2020 Van avalanches

2020 Van avalanches
Bahçesarayavalanchefebruary2020.jpg
Rescue efforts after the second avalanche
Date4 – 5 February 2020 (2020-02-05)
LocationBahçesaray, Van, Turkey
Coordinates38°7′43″N 42°48′27″E / 38.12861°N 42.80750°E / 38.12861; 42.80750Coordinates: 38°7′43″N 42°48′27″E / 38.12861°N 42.80750°E / 38.12861; 42.80750
CauseHeavy snowfall
Deaths4 Feb. : 5
5 Feb. : 36
Total: 41
Non-fatal injuries84

In February 2020, two avalanches occurred near Bahçesaray in Turkey's eastern Van Province. The first, on 4 February, buried two vehicles, leading to a rescue operation by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency involving around 300 people. The second, on 5 February, occurred while this operation was ongoing. At least 41 people were killed in the two avalanches, with 84 others being injured, six seriously.

Avalanches

On the evening of 4 February 2020, an avalanche took place in a mountain pass in the Bahçesaray district, leaving a snow-clearing vehicle and a minibus buried. Five people were killed and two others were reported missing, while seven passengers and the vehicle's operator managed to escape.[1][2] In response, a major rescue operation involving around 300 personnel was launched by Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD). While the team was on-site, a second avalanche struck around noon on 5 February, overturning vehicles and leaving at least 33 people dead.[3]

Aftermath

Typical winter landscape in the İhtiyar Şahap mountains (view from Bahçesaray)

The Governor of Van Province Mehmet Emin Bilmez said that the initial death toll of 38 included eight military police officers, three government-paid village guards, three firefighters and nine volunteers. Officials later announced that 53 people were injured in total, and an unknown number remained buried under the snow. Heavy snow, fog and strong winds were slowing down the rescue efforts,[1] with more than 114 locations being cut off due to impassable roads.[4]

On 6 February, AFAD officials announced that the death toll had increased to 41, and a total of 180 personnel were searching for the bodies of at least three people still missing, while setting off controlled explosions to lessen the risk of further avalanches.[5] In anticipation of interruptions to communication, two mobile base stations were provided.[6] The number of injured had risen to 84, 47 of whom remained hospitalized, including six in intensive care.[7][8]

A memorial ceremony was held in Van on 6 February for 11 military police officers, nine village guards and two firefighters who were killed in the disaster. The coffins of the deceased were then sent to their various hometowns for burial.[7][8] On February 7, the Turkish Interior Ministry assigned a team of three inspectors to "inquire and investigate every aspect of the two avalanche incidents".[9]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Avalanche in Turkey wipes out rescue team; 41 dead overall". Associated Press. 5 February 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Van'da çığ altındakileri arayan ekiplerin üzerine çığ düştü" (in Turkish). Anadolu Agency. 5 February 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Avalanche in Turkey kills rescuers who were searching for survivors of previous avalanche". CNN. 5 February 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Hopes dim for missing after avalanche death toll rises to 41 in Turkey". Daily Sabah. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Van'da meydana gelen iki çığ felaketinde 41 kişi hayatını kaybetti". Habertürk (in Turkish). 6 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Death toll rises to at least 41 after twin avalanches in Turkey". CNN. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Death toll in Turkey avalanche disaster rises to 41". Associated Press. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Number of dead rises from Turkey double avalanche disaster". Euronews. 5 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Inspectors assigned for deadly avalanches in Van". Hürriyet. 7 February 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2020.

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