Duvar English

One of the avalanches that hit the eastern province of Van was reportedly caused by the recklessness of a presidential aide when she ignored warnings on not to use a dangerous road.

Two avalanches struck Van’s Bahçesaray on Feb. 4 and 5, with the second one killing rescuers that headed to the area to save those buried under snow in the first avalanche.

As the country continues to discuss whether negligence caused the death toll to rise over 40, it was claimed that Presidential Adviser and former ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Gülşen Orhan’s reckless behavior triggered the second avalanche.

Gülşen Orhan

Orhan tried to pass through a road that was blocked due to snow via ordering heavy machinery to clear the road, even though an avalanche warning was conveyed to her, Habertürk’s Ankara correspondent Bülent Aydemir said on Feb. 6.

Funeral ceremony of soldiers killed under an avalanche is seen.

“There was a dinner organization in [Van’s] Çatak that Orhan attended. When she’s leaving, she’s told that there is the danger of an avalanche and it’s not correct to use the road. However, she leaves with the accompanying delegation,” Aydemir said, adding that Orhan ordered five snow plough vehicles to accompany them.

Aydemir noted that one of the factors that triggered the avalanche was high decibels caused by snow plough vehicles.

Relatives of those killed in the avalanche are seen in a funeral ceremony.

Orhan, who was also wounded in the avalanche and whose driver was killed, released a statement to refute Aydemir’s claims.

“I went to the area to see the rescue efforts. The avalanche struck two minutes after we got off our car. I didn’t have any heavy machinery accompanying me,” she said, while urging Aydemir to apologize.

“These are slanders and lies,” she added.

Van Governor’s Office also released a statement, saying that Aydemir’s report is ill-intentioned.

Over 40 people were killed in the avalanche on Feb. 5, including soldiers, village guards and firemen.