Eastern Europe Cold Snap Kills Over 600 People
More than 600 people in Eastern Europe have died during a record-breaking cold snap, authorities said Wednesday, as officials in the Czech Republic blamed two massive car pile-ups on blinding snow.
Since the end of January, the region has been pummeled by the deep freeze, which has brought the heaviest blizzards in recent memory, trapped thousands behind walls of snow, and left officials struggling to reach out to the vulnerable. Authorities in Russia and Ukraine alone said Wednesday that more than 300 people have died in the bitter cold.
Some hundred damaged cars blocked a major highway in the Czech Republic connecting the capital, Prague, with the eastern part of the country and Slovakia. Seven people were injured in the two accidents, authorities said, warning it could be hours before the mangled vehicles are cleared.
In hard-hit Romania, some 23,000 people remain isolated in 225 eastern communities where more than one week of heavy snowfall has blocked roads and wreaked havoc on the rail network.
Residents were worried that their rural houses could collapse under the heavy snow as authorities struggled to bring them food, water, medicine and wood. A flight instructor volunteered to fly his homemade powered parachute, making several 45 minute-trips to deliver bread and canned food to people who have been cut off for days.