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Heavy snowfalls take their toll

Roads blocked, power cuts, fallen trees, cars damaged, delays in public transport and air traffic – these are the effects of the snowfall and blizzard of the past 24 hours.

By    Daniela Baragan

The latter half of January sees winter coming into its own in Bucharest. It’s been snowing heavily for over 14 hours and the snow on the roads is already a couple of inches-thick. The first heavy snow of this year is taking its toll: public transport was blocked on some portions, 25 trees toppled on the Bucharest streets or on the Bucharest Autonomous Public Transport Direction (RATB)’s power lines and ten cars were damaged. Furthermore, traffic was slowed down yesterday, affecting public and private transport alike, and waiting-time in RATB stops was considerably longer than on a regular weekday.

According to representatives of the Emergency Situations Inspectorate (ISU), trolleybuses were stalled yesterday for approximately two hours on the Regina Elisabeta Blvd., at the juncture with Calea Victoriei, after two trees toppled on the power lines. Trams were slowed down as well and several lines reported delays of dozens of minutes, forcing passengers to walk the rest of the way. RATB announced subsequently by a press release that 13 traffic-related problems, namely, road blocks, delays or slowdowns, had been reported by noon.

Although the authorities claim the snow-removal teams worked ceaselessly on Tuesday night, yesterday morning Bucharest’s streets and boulevards were still covered in snow, to the people’s disgruntlement. Despite problems, general-mayor Sorin Oprescu promised traffic in Bucharest would proceed smoothly. “We want to have snow removed from the streets, no matter how heavy the snowfall, and then we’ll proceed to having the snow removed from the city. We will never be able to get all the snow out if it snows heavily, it would be madness, but just enough of it for traffic to go on in normal conditions,” Oprescu stated, quoted by Antena 3. On the other hand, the Bucharest mayor stated that 70 homeless people had been taken to a shelter and the emergency rooms of the 19 city hospitals are ready to provide first aid where need be. Concerned with problems on the field, Oprescu summoned yesterday the Winter Board to discuss with representatives of RATB, the road administration and hospitals measures to be taken by the respective bodies, taking into consideration warnings issued by the meteorologists. Yesterday afternoon, prime-minister Emil Boc had a video conference with prefects to address problems caused by snowfalls across the country.

Meteorologists issued yesterday a snow and blizzard warning for counties Ilfov (Bucharest included), Teleorman, Giurgiu, Arges, Dambovita, Prahova, Calarasi, Ialomita, Buzau, Braila, Galati, Vrancea, Constanta, Tulcea, Mehe­dinti, Dolj and Olt. According to the National Meteorology Admi­nis­tration (ANM), wind speed may reach 90 km/hour, steeply reducing the visibility range (below 50 m) and encouraging snowdrift-formations. The warning will be in force January 25, 9am, to January 26, 6pm. After this date, we’ll be in for freezing cold, especially at night and in the morning and particularly in the central, Eastern and Southern regions. The snow and blizzard watch issued on Tuesday for other 14 counties remains in place tonight.

Flights from Otopeni and Baneasa, delayed

Several flights due to take off from the Otopeni and Baneasa airports reported delays of up to two hours owing to defrosting operations. Thus, five flights were delayed by defrosting operations on the Otopeni Airport, namely, the flights bound for Iasi and Vienna, by one hour and 20 minutes, the flight to Kiev, by an hour, and those to Fiumicino-Rome and Istanbul, by 40 minutes. Three flights were delayed on the Baneasa Airport, namely, the flight to London, by one hour and 30 minutes, a flight to Brussels, by an hour, and one to Beauvais-Paris, by an hour. The spokesman for the Otopeni Airport, Valentin Iordache, stated, however, no flight on either airport had been cancelled on account of the weather and traffic was proceeding as normal in winter conditions.

 

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