Heavy snow strands scores of people in north Serbia

by Reuters
Friday, 31 January 2014 15:11 GMT

BELGRADE, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Strong winds have created meters-high snow drifts in northern Serbia, trapping up to 60 people in cars and buses, the head of the emergency services said on Friday.

Rescuers used bulldozers and heavy machinery to open a road near the northern town of Zrenjanin, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Serbia's capital Belgrade, after a column of cars got stuck overnight in the snow drifts, said Predrad Maric, head of the Interior Ministry's emergencies department.

"It is very difficult, even for machinery. The rescuers are walking towards stranded cars," he told Reuters.

Serbian authorities have imposed a state of emergency in Zrenjanin and several other towns in the northern province of Vojvodina after easterly winds with speeds of more than 150 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour) hit the region.

Border crossings with neighbouring Croatia, Romania and Hungary have been closed to freight traffic and authorities warned people in northern Serbia to avoid unnecessary travel.

Port authorities in Belgrade also imposed restrictions on Friday for navigation along the River Danube after a barge carrying gravel capsized near the Serbian capital. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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