news 26 Jan 12

Heavy Snowfall Paralyzes Kosovo

Heavy snowfall over the past two days has paralyzed traffic in Kosovo and across the region, shutting down schools, roads and borders.

Fatmir Aliu

Kosovo’s Meteorology Institute said on Thursday that the snow level had reached 1.3 meters in the mountains, while in cities 50-70 centimetres has accumulated, representing one of the most heavy snowfalls in the past three decades.

The Ministry of Education cancelled school throughout the country for the rest of the week, as workers struggle to remove snow from the roads.

Kosovo’s leadership has cancelled most of their trips in and out Kosovo, while Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has been stuck in Vienna since Tuesday, as flights from the Austrian capital to Pristina have been cancelled.

Due to the severe winter weather, the EU mediator in the Kosovo-Serbia talks, Robert Cooper, has called off his scheduled visit to Pristina.

Local police have reported over 90 car accidents in the past 24 hours.

“We had some 88 accidents with material damage, and 10 with injuries. The border crossings with Montenegro at Kulla and Macedonia at Globocica have been entirely closed to traffic. The crossing with Serbia at Merdare, meanwhile, was reopened this morning,” Kosovo Police spokeswoman Sabrie Kamberi told Balkan Insight on Thursday.

The severe winter weather has gripped the entire region. Southern Romania woke up Thursday to extreme cold and snowstorms, with treacherous roads, power outages and cancelled trains and flights.

Heavy snowfall last night blocked routes in and out of Bucharest, while many flights at the two airports in the capital city have been cancelled.

Commuters are facing delays and crowds at the metro – the only public transport unaffected by the blizzard. 

Heavy snow has closed over 100 national roads in southern Romania, and trucks have been stuck in several locations in the region. The authorities have warned drivers to be extremely careful when travelling on roads in the eastern part of the country as well.

Local meteorologists have issued a code-yellow warning for snow and strong winds until 6 o'clock Friday morning.

Bulgaria has also felt the effects of the snowfall.

The border between Bulgaria and Romania has been closed due to the weather warning implemented in Romania, Bulgarian Regional Development Minister Lilyana Pavlova announced.

The bridge over the River Danube connecting the two countries has been closed to all vehicles. All transit traffic travelling from Greece and Turkey to Romania via Bulgaria has also been blocked, Pavlova informed.

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