Killer avalanche in Turkey

January 25, 2009 8:50:48 AM PST
An avalanche killed at least 10 people as they hiked on a mountain in northeastern Turkey on Sunday, the region's governor said. There were conflicting reports on the number of people still unaccounted for, but Gov. Enver Salihoglu said one or two people may still be buried under the snow.

At least four people were hurt and taken to hospitals for treatment.

The hikers were part of a group of between 15 and 20 people walking on the 7,200-foot (2,200-meter) Mount Zigana, in Gumushane province, when snow crashed down on them.

"We were walking and before we realized what was going on, the avalanche came on us," Ural Ayar, one of the survivors, told NTV television by telephone. "The snow dragged our friends along and unfortunately they were buried."

The group were members of a mountaineering club from the nearby province of Trabzon taking part in a snow festival held on the mountain this weekend.

Military and private mountain rescue teams, some assisted by sniffer dogs, were searching for the missing.

Television footage showed soldiers and villagers struggling through the snow to carry a person lying on a makeshift stretcher.

Rescue workers could be seen probing the snow with long, thin rods, in search of further victims.

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