Europe snow cuts off hundreds of villages

Heavy snowfall across eastern Europe cut off hundreds of villages on Tuesday and rescue teams struggled to evacuate people in southern Bulgaria where rain and melting snow had caused a dam wall to break, flooding an entire village.

A river dike also broke under intense water pressure near Kapitan Andreevo at the border with Turkey, officials said.

The cold snap has killed hundreds of people across Europe and temperatures in some countries plummeted to nearly minus 40C (minus 40F). Officials on Tuesday warned of flooding when temperatures rise and snow melts.

Around 146 towns and villages in Romania were isolated with no road or train connections because of blizzards. Up to 174 villages had no electricity, said Alin Maghiar, spokesman for Romania’s emergency department.

Electricity was also cut off to 300 towns and villages in Bulgaria, roads were closed and several border checkpoints with Romania and Turkey were shut, the Interior Ministry said.
The ministry said more heavy snowfall was expected.

Melting snow had caused a dam wall to break and flood an entire village in southern Bulgaria on Monday. Four people drowned and more than 50 were evacuated. Four more people died when their cars were swept away by high waters.

“It was terrifying,” Iliyan Todorov from the village of Biser told Trud daily. “We were warned that the tsunami was coming only five minutes before the wave came... We survived by a miracle.”

European Commissioner for Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva said “the worst is yet to come” after visiting Biser. “The next two weeks may be really hard. The warmer weather will cause melting of the snow and the situation will most probably worsen,” she said.

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