13 migrants in Turkey’s east feared to have frozen to death

13 migrants in Turkey’s east feared to have frozen to death

VAN – Demirören News Agency
13 migrants in Turkey’s east feared to have frozen to death

Turkish search and rescue teams have been dispatched to a remote zone near the Iranian border to save at least 13 migrants who have been stranded due to heavy snowstorm and freezing temperatures.

The governor’s office in Van received a report that 13 irregular migrants froze to death shortly after they entered a mountainous area of Çaldıran district of the eastern province from Iran.

Search and rescue teams of gendarmerie and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) were sent to the area, said a statement from the governor’s office on Feb. 10.

The Tendürek mountain pass on the road connecting districts of Çaldıran and Doğubeyazıt was closed to traffic due to a heavy snowstorm, it added.

Some 160 village roads and 200 hamlet roads across Van were blocked by masses of snow.

Another group of undocumented migrants were rescued in a five-hour operation by the gendarmerie officers the district of Gevaş. The group members, consisting of 49 Afghan nationals, managed to contact the officers when they started suffering from hypothermia. They were all hospitalized.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

In 2019, more than 454,500 irregular migrants were held in Turkey, according to the Interior Ministry. The migrants included Syrian, Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Turkmen, Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Indian, Algerian, Somali, Ghanaian, Yemeni, Palestinian, Eritrean and Nigerian nationals.

The Turkish meteorology authority announced that temperatures would float between -12 and -19 degrees Celsius in Çaldıran district, and between -8 and -13 in Bahçesaray.

The efforts to find the missing firefighter who was buried under snow in an avalanche on Feb. 5 in Bahçesaray district cannot be carried on continuously due to snowstorm, fog and avalanche risk.

Teams of AFAD, gendarmerie and meteorology directorate were deployed at the nearest gendarmerie station in a bid to resume the search operation when the conditions ease, the governor’s office said on Feb. 10.

On Feb. 4, an avalanche buried a minibus on the road connecting Bahçesaray and Çatak districts, killing five people.

The next day, dozens of rescue teams and villagers searching for two other victims were engulfed by another avalanche. While most of them were rescued, 36 of them died.

Surrounded by colossal mountains, Van’s border districts frequently experience harsh winter conditions.