Six people died on Tuesday night, deemed this winter’s coldest night. Yellow code for ‘dangerous meteorological phenomenon’ expected.
By Daniela Baragan
The countrywide death toll from the severe cold spell is on the rise. According to Realitatea TV, six people died on Tuesday night from frostbite, pushing the number of victims to 14 since the freeze warning was issued. Health Ministry (MS) representatives stated that the six deaths reported in the past 24 hours occurred in counties Arad, Vrancea, Satu Mare, Dambovita and Iasi, where two deaths were reported. The homeless and elderly people who live on their own and cannot afford decent heating remain the most sorely affected by the freezing cold. Indeed, according to MS, 346 such individuals were taken on Tuesday night by ambulances and SMURD to medical units and especially set-up care centres. The number of people calling the Bucharest-Ilfov Ambulance Service (SABI) rose steeply also, with 1,318 calls reported in the past 24 hours alone, the highest figure since the beginning of the cold spell, over half of which were emergencies, namely, 39 fractures and 22 cases of trauma.
According to Dr. Bogdan Oprita the number of calls for SMURD ambulances increased by the day, as people prefer not to go outside in the freezing air. Oprita said 50 cases of persons falling on the ice were registered daily, about 10 per cent of them needing hospitalization.
As regards extreme temperatures, the “pole of cold” remains Intorsura Buzaului, Covasna County, where a temperature of -32 degrees Celsius was reported yesterday morning. Freezing cold also struck Brasov, with mercury falling to -25, Giurgiu, -24, as well as Alba Iulia and Sibiu, -22 degrees C. Bucharest was in for freezing cold also, with the lowest temperature reported yesterday morning at the Baneasa station reaching -22 degrees C. People faced the cold not only in the streets, but also in their own homes, after heating was turned off in 20 blocks of flats in the Pantelimon neighbourhood due to a heating pipe failure.
Although we may be tempted to think it can’t get any colder, meteorologists claim such extreme temperatures are by no means a record in Romania, while giving assurances there is little likelihood the ongoing freeze warning will be extended for Friday. “In the short and medium run, temperatures will remain close to the monthly multi-annual average and no record temperatures have been reported in this interval. It is worth mentioning the all-time low for Romania remains -38.5 degrees Celsius, reported in 1947 in Bod, Brasov County,” Gabriela Bancila, on-duty meteorologist of the National Meteorology Administration, stated, quoted by realitatea.net.
Environment Minister is warning
Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely submitted to the government a document regarding the meteorological situation for the next days, the conclusion drawn being that the issuance of a ‘yellow code warning for dangerous meteorological phenomenon’ is needed, Realitatea.net informs. According to the quoted source, meteorologists are to issue a warning for such phenomenon to last until Friday by noon.
Five national roads, closed
Traffic blocks persist. According to the Infotrafic Centre, traffic was blocked yesterday on segments of six national roads because of the snow and blizzard. These include DN22 Ramnicu Sarat – Braila in Buzau County; DN22F Izvoarele – Nalbant, Tulcea County; DN23A Gologanu – Ciorasti, Vrancea County; DN23B Maicanesti – Codresti, Vrancea County, and DN2N Dumbraveni – Bogza, Vrancea County. “254 snow-removal machines were deployed and 849 tonnes of non-skid material were scattered about on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. Traffic will be resumed depending on meteorological trends. Traffic proceeds in winter conditions in the country and the Company is at work across the road network,” a release by the Romanian National Roads and Highways Company (CNADNR) reports.
Danube freezes over…
The snow, blizzard and frost spread across the country, but Dobrogea seems to be facing the most serious problems. In Tulcea, two villages were cut off from the world as in that region the Danube was covered nearly in full by a sheet of ice. For this reason, the Defence Ministry dispatched a tug-boat over there to pick up the people who wish to travel to Tulcea. To prevent any incidents, the authorities stopped traffic on the Danube and the seaports were closed down. In Constanta, 200 metres away from Vama Veche, a tourist coach on its way back from Turkey which had 24 passengers aboard was blocked for several hours by the heavy snowfall.