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Severe weather - Serbia: six die in -36 degree freeze

Kosovo on alert - Bosnian villages isolated

31 January, 17:04

    (ANSAmed) - BELGRADE, JANUARY 31 - The death toll from the wave of freezing weather across Serbia over recent days has risen to six. The body of a man was found near to his home in Topola, south of Belgrade. Before then, another five had died across the country as temperatures sank to a record -36 degrees in the southern highlands of Pesterska. In the city of Sjenica, thermometers stood at -29, while in Belgrade the temperature at 7am today was -12. A state of emergency has been declared in around fifteen areas. Dozens have been admitted to hospital with broken bones following falls on the ice. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the southern highlands of Pesterska was -39.4 degrees in 1986.

    The cold has also caused emergency conditions in Kosovo, where temperatures dropped to -22 degrees last night. Snow and ice are causing traffic problems in some parts of the country although the main routes are free. Low temperatures led to electricity blackouts in some areas, although no deaths have been reported.

    Around two hundred road accidents due to icy conditions have been reported with dozens injured. Despite the extreme temperatures, Serb extremists are maintaining the barricade positions erected five months ago in reply to the frontier posts erected by Serbia in Brnjak and Jarinje. The Serbs are protesting against the presence of Albanian frontier police and customs officers sent by Pristina.

    They are protecting themselves from the cold by lighting bonfires and taking turns to keep vigil. Plentiful snows over recent days have led to hardships in Bosnia, too. In the East of the country, especially, near the Serb border, several mountain villages are isolated, as are three communities in the Srebrenica area and some villages in the Foca area, where snow lies one and a half metres deep in places. The village of Jamnici in the Foca area was freed on Sunday night and help brought to an elderly couple, Mejra and Avdija Djozo, who had been surviving on just bread for days. The couple were taken to Gorazde. Today's minimum temperatures and tomorrow's forecast are of minus 14 degrees. Heavy snow is expected this evening across the whole of Bosnia, with rain in Herzegovina.(ANSAmed).

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