Serbia: 1,000 evacuated from snow-hit cars, buses

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Associated Press

Posted on February 1, 2014 at 4:07 PM

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Rescuers, army and police have evacuated more than 1,000 people from cars and buses stranded in deep snow in northern Serbia, but several hundred people still remain stuck, the government said Saturday.

Authorities have closed down snow-hit roads and banned river traffic on the Danube river because of strong winds, said the government statement.

"The Serbian government is urging citizens not to travel until all danger is fully removed," the statement added.

Winter so far in Serbia had been exceptionally mild, but over the last week a cold spell and snowstorms have swept across parts of central and eastern Europe. Heavy snow in Bulgaria left dozens of villages without electricity and water and Romanian authorities declared a "code red" weather warning on Wednesday.

Emergency officials in Serbia reported that dozens of cars and two passenger trains remain stranded in the country's north, flat area where strong winds have been piling up snow drifts, cutting off villages and roads. By late Saturday, some roads were cleared and hundreds more people evacuated.

Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic — who is tipped to become the new prime minister after snap elections in March — toured the area with other government ministers. Vucic — who was filmed by state TV carrying a child through the storm — said there are about a dozen columns of cars still stranded.

Blic daily said tennis player Novak Djokovic also came to the rescue of the trapped people.

Vlatko Jovicevic, one of the stranded travelers, told B92 Television and Radio Station that he has been stuck for more than 20 hours.

"I walked for two kilometers (miles) to get more fuel and some water," he said. "We are running out of fuel."

Snow drifts in places are 3.5 meters high (11.5 feet high), prompting authorities to close the main border crossing with Hungary.

The state railway company said it would evacuate several dozen passengers stranded on two trains going to and from Hungary that were stuck because of snow on the tracks.

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