Closed roads, Sun Highway severely affected by weather conditions, and over 210 cancelled trains. Alert state, extended to four more counties: Calarasi, Constanta, Tulcea. Man dead due to the blizzard in Buzau.
The National Meteorological Administration (ANM) issued a Red Code alert of snowfalls and blizzard in six south-eastern counties on Wednesday afternoon (starting 3 pm until 10 pm), according to ANM Executive Manager Florinela Georgescu. The counties involved are Ialomita, Buzau, Tulcea, Constanta, Braila, and Galati. Meteorologists expect new snow layers of more than 50 centimetres and wind gusts over 80 kmph.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta has warned the code red alert may be extended to include other counties as well. “Based on ANM’s latest alerts, we will know exactly which counties we should be focusing on. If necessary, the alert code will be extended to other counties seriously affected by weather conditions,” Ponta said. He asked Deputy Prime Minister Dragnea to specify funds are not allotted to local authorities in case of alert code, but equipment is provided from the state reserve. Concurrently, the National Committee for Emergency Situations decided to declare an alert state also in the Counties of Ialomita (southern Romania), Calarasi (southern Romania), Constanta (south-eastern Romania) and Tulcea (eastern Romania), taking into account the Code Red warning for blizzard, Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced in the Winter Task Force meeting, held at the Victoria Palace. Traffic on highway and sections of 27 national roads was closed again. Road traffic was suspended due to unfavourable weather conditions on the Sun Highway (A2) stretch between Lehliul and Fetesti and DN 24D from Balabanesti to Tulcesti, Galati County, as well as on Highway A3 Bucharest – Poiesti, and A2, the section between kilometres 12 and 62 (Bucharest – Lehliu), so the Bucharest stretch of highway A2 is not open for traffic. Traffic is also closed on DN 22 and DN 2C. ANM has announced Soarelui Highway will be severely affected by blizzard because it is completely exposed to the dominant wind direction.
‘There is a powerful storm in the Black Sea. (The Danube River port of) Tulcea will face most problems in terms of the weather,’ explained Florinela Georgescu. The ANM Managing Director Ion Sandu also underscored that issuing the codes is a very complicated matter and stressed the forecasters do not put codes in place only ‘for the sake of the press’. ‘Things are extremely complicated when codes are issued, we have not put a Code Red alert in place for the sake of the press. Wednesday afternoon will be very bad from the viewpoint of the weather. The specialists will establish in the coming hours if there are the conditions in place so as to issue a Code Red alert for several hours particularly for Braila, Constanta and Tulcea,’ the Forecaster said, as quoted by Agerpres.
All national roads were closed in Calarasi , Tulcea and Braila. In Ialomita, three national roads and fifteen county roads were closed yesterday, while in Buzau two national roads – DN 22 between Ramnicu Sarat and Braila and DN 2C between Buzau and Slobozia – were blocked again due to the blizzard, and traffic on two other national roads – DN 2 (E 85) and DN 2B between Buzau and Braila – was restricted and directed by traffic officers. In Braila, inhabitants from seven villages remained isolated due to snowfall, whereas in Galati, three localities faced the same situation.
A 42-years old man was found dead in the snow in Cernatesti village, Buzau. According to ’Jurnal de Buzau’ local paper, the man left home on January 27, heading to his aunt’s house but never returned. Alerted by his sister, police officers and locals began the search, but found him dead in the snow, only 150 meters far from his aunt’s house.
The Ministry of Defense has deployed over 240 military crews in Vrancea, Braila, Valcea, Buzau, and Galati counties to help clear the snow and over 200 households in Buzau, Vrancea, and Braila have been cleared so far. Gendarmes provided medicine, food, and blankets. Yesterday, the government approved sending emergency humanitarian aid – products from the state reserve – to persons affected by severe weather conditions in Braila, Buzau, Galati, Vaslui, and Vrancea counties.
Over 210 cancelled trains, closed ports, and delayed take-offs
Although all railway lines were open yesterday, traffic restrictions were introduced for eight of the railway lines and over 210 trains were cancelled on south and south-eastern lines, according to CFR Calatori.
Traffic was restricted due to thick layers of snow on the following lines: Braila – Faurei-Buzau, Bucharest North – Urziceni, Golesti – Chitila, Marasesti – Tecuci-Barbosi, Ploiesti – Ramnicu Sarat-Adjud, Ploiesti South – Armasesti, Urziceni – Slobozia, and Veresti – Leorda. Trains with auto motors are prohibited from using these lines, as intervention crews are working the areas with machines.
Midia, Constanta North, Constanta South Agigea, and Mangalia ports were also closed early Sunday due to strong wind, and maneuvers on the Danube – Black Sea and Sulina – Bara Sulina canals were suspended. The ports in Constanta were also closed from late Friday until Monday at noon due to strong wind gusts blowing at 70 to 80 km/h.
Several airplanes on Henri Coanda Airport experienced over 30-minute-take-off delays due to de-icing operations, but no flights were cancelled, the National Airport Company of Bucharest announced. Air traffic on Aurel Vlaicu International Airport at Baneasa is also conducted under normal parameters for winter conditions. Airport crews are working at the two Bucharest airports to maintain movement surfaces in optimum conditions for the safe operation of air activities.
Concurrently, schools remained closed also on Thursday in Bucharest, Arges, Braila, Buzau, Calara?i, Constanta, Galati, Griugiu, Ialomita, Ilfov, Prahova, Teleorman, Valcea, Vrancea. Initially, Bucharest School Inspectorate announced on Wednesday at noon that classes will be resumed on Thursday, but later on Education Ministry stepped in and decided to keep school closed today as well.
Calls, fines, and… baby born on train
The General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU) has urged citizens not to go on the road unless absolutely necessary, and travel equipped with snow removal tools, food, water, necessary medicine, and non-electric lighting equipment. In the capital city, ISU Bucharest has displayed the weather alert on 37 electronic panels set up in intense traffic areas.
On Tuesday, over 300 drivers were fined by Romanian Police officers for driving without winter tires. The fines were between RON 765 and RON 1,700.
Additionally, IGSU has urged pregnant women who are due to give birth in upcoming days and high risk pregnancy cases to move to localities equipped with hospitals to ensure prompt medical assistance. The Inspectorate made the announcement after intervention crews were called repeatedly to rescue multiple pregnant women who were due in snowed-in villages and transport them to the hospital. Unable to reach the hospital in time, some of the patients have birth at home.
An unusual incident occurred in a train traveling from Tecuci to Iasi, in which a 33-year old woman gave birth to a baby boy on Wednesday morning. The new mother had left for Iasi to attend a trial, accompanied by her husband. Near the Vaslui station, she entered labour. All the passengers were removed from the car, and the woman was assisted by her husband and the female ticket controller on board while she gave birth to a boy. In Balteni station, the newborn and his mother were picked up by an ambulance. The boy was born on his father’s birthday.
More ambulances available in the capital city
The Bucharest-Ilfov Ambulance Service (SABI) has supplemented the number of emergency intervention crews by 18 on account of bad weather conditions, Dr. Alis Grasu, manager of SABI, announced yesterday. “We have supplemented the number of crews by 18. At present, we have 66 crews, of which 14 are in charge of house calls and provide doctor services, and 12 are used in patient transport,” she noted. By Wednesday 8 a.m., SABI had received 1,275 calls, of which 643 were emergency cases. 40 calls out of 643 were in reference to faintness in public, eight involved pregnancies, three were related to traffic accidents, and three were in reference to persons who had collapsed in the street. 30 cases of fractures, sprains, or luxation and 16 trauma cases were reported in the 24-hour interval.
Prefect of Buzau demoted due to mismanagement of weather crisis situation
Gabriel Balta was relieved of his duties as prefect of Buzau County at yesterday’s government session and replaced by Maria Buleandra, who was in charge of the Legal Control Bureau at Town Hall, official sources cited by Mediafax have stated. Late Tuesday, PM Ponta announced the Government would appoint a different prefect in Buzau. “I want everyone across the country to do their job and I want a higher degree of competence. Those who have not risen to meet our expectations will be replaced. From what I understand, things did not go well in Buzau; following a proposal by the Minister of Internal Affairs (editor’s note – currently Gabriel Oprea), we will appoint a different prefect in Buzau, who is capable of dealing with these challenges,” the Prime Minister said. During a visit in Buzau on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea criticized local authorities of Buzau for mishandling the situation in snowed-in localities. On Tuesday, the now demoted prefect Gabriel Balta was unsure how many localities in his county were isolated. When asked by reporters to name these localities and explain why he has not been answering calls from mayors, Balta replied, “I don’t have a list of names, I don’t know them. I have no time for phone calls.”