Second Turkey avalanche wipes out rescue team leaving 38 dead

A team of rescue workers has been wiped out with others missing as Turkey is rocked by a second avalanche in as many days.

Emergency crew members had been sent to the site in eastern Turkey to find two people missing in the previous avalanche.

The second avalanche slammed into a mountain road on Wednesday, killing rescue workers and leaving others buried under the snow, a local mayor said.

The death toll from both incidents now stands at 38.

Some 300 emergency service workers were called to a highway near the mountain-surrounded town of Bahcesehir, in Van province, which borders Iran, after an avalanche struck on Tuesday, killing five people.

Meki Arvas, mayor of Bahcesaray, gave the death toll for the rescue workers. Gov. Mehmet Emin Bilmez said 25 emergency service members were rescued from under the snow and hospitalised on Wednesday.

Rescue workers were caught up in a second avalanche. Credit: AP

The first avalanche buried a snow-clearing vehicle and a minibus, killing five people and leaving two others missing. The vehicle's operator and seven passengers escaped alive.

The second avalanche struck Wednesday as 300 emergency workers were searching for the two missing victims, private NTV television reported, adding that fog and heavy snow were hampering the rescue efforts.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the operator, Bahattin Karagulle, was trapped beneath the snow for some 25 minutes before he managed to break a window and escape.

The agency quoted him as saying that he walked toward a village before he was picked up by a vehicle and managed to seek help.

The back-to-back avalanches come just weeks after Turkey was rocked by an earthquake which killed dozens and left more than 1,000 people injured.