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Death toll in Turkey avalanche disaster rises to 40

ISTANBUL (AP) — Aided by sniffer dogs, Turkish rescue workers scanned an avalanche field in eastern Turkey on Thursday, searching for a final missing person after two avalanches that killed dozens, Turkish news agencies reported.

The private DHA news agency said two more bodies were recovered Thursday, bringing the death toll from the two avalanches to 40.

Five people were killed and two people went missing in an avalanche that struck late Tuesday in eastern Van province, which borders Iran. Some 300 emergency service workers were then sent to a highway near the mountain-surrounded town of Bahcesaray. Around noon Wednesday, the large rescue team was struck by a second avalanche.

In addition to the deaths, dozens were injured. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said early Thursday that 47 people remained hospitalized after the avalanches. He said six were in intensive care but they weren't in critical condition.

A ceremony was held for 11 military police officers, nine government-paid village guards and two firefighters in Van who were killed by the avalanches. Their coffins were sent to their hometowns for burial.

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