Blizzards, snowfall, and high winds have wreaked havoc over the past two days in eastern and southeastern Europe, leaving hundreds of thousands of people isolated and without electricity and running water, while traffic accidents prompted by the dangerous conditions have caused at least two deaths and several injuries.
A powerful cyclone sweeping from the Black Sea brought snowfall as far north as Moscow in what the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia called “one of the strongest storms to ever hit at the end of November.”
Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Romania were among the hardest hit areas, including the Russia-annexed Crimea peninsula where one person died and almost half a million people were left without power after the storm in the Black Sea region flooded roads, unrooted trees and downed electricity lines.
The Aquarium Museum in the Russia-annexed city of Sevastopol reported that the storm tore through the complex, killing all of the 800 or so animals housed in the facility.
A storm warning remains in effect in Crimea due to wind gusts of up to 40 meters per second and November 27 was declared a day off, the Interfax news agency reported.
In war-wracked Ukraine, inclement weather added to people’s hardships caused by Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure.
Heavy snowfall across the whole country prompted the closure of 14 highways while 16 of Ukraine’s 24 regions were experiencing power cuts. Especially harsh conditions were reported in the southern regions of Odesa and Mykolayiv, where snow drifts as high as two meters hampered traffic.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said a total of 2,019 settlements in 16 regions have been left without electricity, while 1,370 trucks remain stranded, and 840 cars had to be towed.
Authorities in Romania and neighboring Moldova said hundreds of cities and villages have been left without electricity and water in the two neighboring countries following heavy snowfall and blizzards that prompted a severe disruption of road and railway traffic.
Railway traffic has resumed in southeastern Romania but 21 national highways remain closed as of November 27, authorities said, while schools in five southeastern counties — Braila, Galati, Tulcea, Calarasi, and Constanta were also closed.
A total of 22 counties out of 41 and 170 villages and cities in the southeast of the country, including Bucharest, were affected by power cuts.
In Moldova, 123,000 people from almost 200 localities were left without electricity. One man died when his car veered off the snow-covered road and hit a tree on November 26, police said, adding that several other traffic accidents had been reported.
Sixteen Moldovans were injured when the bus they were traveling on overturned during a blizzard on a highway in southern Romania, police said. Emergency services transported several injured people to the hospital.
In Bulgaria, snowfall and blizzards prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency in several areas in the northeast of the country — in the Silistra and Razgrad regions, the Valchi dol municipality, the Varna region, and the Shumen region.
Source : RFERL