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News 12 Dec 12

Heavy Snow and Freezing Temperatures Grip Balkans

Cold claimed ten lives in the Balkans, while heavy snowfall has disrupted traffic throughout the region.

Belgrade, Podgorica, Skopje, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Tirana, Sofia

In Serbia, the fifth victim of freezing temperatures was buried on Tuesday. Since the cold wave hit the Balkans at the weekend, ten people have died in Serbia and Croatia.

Although most roads in Serbia were passable, traffic was slow. Traffic was worst in Vojvodina in the north of Serbia and in the west. Snow was still falling in most parts of the country on Tuesday.

Sixty-one schools, mainly in Vojvodina province, have been closed, while 15 villages near the Montenegrin border were cut off.

Several mountain villages were left without electricity, while parts of Nis and Priboj were left without heating.

Heating cuts in Nis were caused by damage to the local power plant. Priboj was left without heating because the tank carrying 25 tons of fuel oil to the town became stuck in the snow.

Belgrade has kept only major roads clean. Traffic in the capital almost stopped on Tuesday evening, while public transport vehicles took hours to pass through.

Ivica Dacic, the Prime Minister, criticised the authorities for not being prepared for the snow. If he “could meet Thaci [Kosovo's Prime Minister], they could have cleaned up the snow”, he said.

Snow also covered most of Montenegro, closing several roads for traffic and power cuts. On Tuesday the power supply was stabilised in most parts of the country, but several major roads in the north were still blocked.

 About a metre of snow fell on Zabljak, a high-altitude town on Mt Durmitor, while snow also fell in Kotor and Bar on the seaside.

Flights from Podgorica airport have been delayed.

In Macedonia snow clogged traffic in most parts of the country but the emergency services have reported no major casualties or additional damage.

Road traffic on Tuesday was especially slow in the west. However, there were no interruptions in bus, train, and air traffic.

Snow in Bosnia also slowed traffic through the country, especially in the mountains. Regional roads from Klanci to Ulog and from Chesim to Berkovici were impassable.

Since the weekend, when the heavy snowfall hit Croatia, heavy vehicles have been banned from some road sections, such as the Zagreb–Split highway.

There were no major interruptions in road traffic, however, and all train lines have remained open.

Strong winds on the Adriatic Sea forced Croatia to cancel some shipping lines to the islands in the Adriatic.

Heavy snow storms and rain caused numerous traffic problems throughout Albania, and many rural areas remain isolated.

According to media, ice and snow have blocked the main highway in the country.

Bulgaria announced that 20 regions had proclaimed "code yellow" as a result of heavy snow on Tuesday.

Code yellow means potentially dangerous weather that requires people to exercise special caution.

The sections that are completely closed to traffic are mountain passes in the Stara Planina and Rodopi mountains.


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