RESCUE workers have been joined by military teams to search for a missing snow plow worker after a deadly avalanche claimed the life of his colleague.
On January 1, emergency services from Asturias and Castilla y Leon were called to a stretch of the AS-253 mountain pass near Aller, San Isidro at around 3pm to attend to an avalanche that had swept across the road.
Reports came through that a snow plow that was sent earlier that day to help clear the already heavy snow had been caught in the avalanche and that the operators were trapped.
The owner of the nearby La Braña hotel, Fernando Cordero, was the first on the scene and described to El Pais that he was called by a young couple who had got caught in the snow.
During the phone call, the young drivers spotted a clearing vehicle pushing the snow off the road around 50 metres ahead when suddenly, a ‘big dust cloud’ engulfed the plow and it disappeared.
As Cordero got to the scene, he discovered the road completely blocked, and a large snow mass around 200 metres down the side of the road with a white van and the snow plow destroyed at the bottom.
Fire crews and sniffer dogs arrived soon after and managed to retrieve the 46-year-old driver of the white van, barely conscious, but alive.
He was transferred to Puebla de Lillo Hospital where he is undergoing treatment for hypothermia, a broken leg and several broken ribs.
According to the police report, the van driver explained that the drivers of the plow got out of the vehicle to clear a blocked snow blower, and were waving at him to turn back as an avalanche was expected.
The driver of the snow plow was discovered dead at around 11pm that night, but the hunt continues for his colleague.
Poor conditions and continued snowfall are hampering rescue efforts, however an 80-strong team are working at the scene to try to find the worker.
Chief Supervisor of the Asturias Firefighters Eduardo Rubio, explains that currently a team has been dispatched to the site of the avalanche to ensure the area is safe to continue searching.
Cordero, lamented the Asturias government for the conditions of the AS-253, and explained that the avalanche was an accident waiting to happen.
“We have been waiting for years for improvements to the road infrastructure in the area.” said Cordero.
“A complaint was submitted and promises were made by the Administration but so far nothing has happened, and unfortunately a man has paid the price with his life.”