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Avalanche in eastern Turkey

An avalanche in eastern Turkey killed at least 21 people, including military police and civilians who were working to rescue victims of an earlier snowslide, the local governor said on Wednesday, according to the news agency Reuters.

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.

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.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen

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