New Avalanche Threat Delays Search for Teens in Siberia

KYZYL, March 4 (RIA Novosti) – The threat of another avalanche is interfering with the search and rescue effort in Russia’s East Siberian republic of Tyva, where six teenagers have been trapped under a large pile of snow, Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said on Monday.

“The search effort in the emergency zone has been put on hold due to deteriorating meteorological conditions. The search will resume as soon as possible,” a ministry spokesman said.

A state of emergency has been declared in the area and the search for teenagers buried by an avalanche will resume on Tuesday morning, a local emergencies spokesman said.

The avalanche occurred on a remote mountain slope six kilometers (four miles) from the village of Mugur-Aksy in the republic’s Mongun-Taiginsky distinct on Sunday. Initial reports said seven teenagers were caught in the avalanche.

The boys were planning to plant flags at the top of the mountain – a custom that is believed to bring luck, Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov wrote on his Twitter page.

One of them, Anton Salchak, 17, a junior European kickboxing champion, managed to escape the snow trap and alerted the regional authorities to the incident. He said the missing teenagers are two wrestlers and four kickboxers.

Meanwhile, hopes of finding the other teenagers alive began fading on Monday, with the local authorities saying the teenagers are not likely to survive. “The chances of surviving in such conditions are slim, but we do not lose hope. We will do everything possible to save the children,” the republic’s deputy head Vitaly Bartyna-Sady said.

Some 147 rescuers and 25 rescue equipment units are involved in the search operation. A Mi-8 helicopter can join the effort on Tuesday if the weather conditions are “favorable,” the ministry said.


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