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Monday, September 25, 2023

Hundreds blocked on Croatia roads as snowstorm causes chaos

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Hundreds of people in Croatia have spent the night in their cars or at petrol stations and reception centres after a snowstorm halted traffic and cut off parts of the country.

The sudden change in the weather over the weekend after a period of warm and balmy days has also snarled up traffic in neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia, leaving areas in western Serbia without power and cutting railway traffic to neighbouring Montenegro.

Croatian authorities said roads leading to and from the Adriatic Sea coastline remain closed because of snow and strong winds.

Media reported that cars and buses were parked along the main Croatian highway as they wait to move on.

Officials urged people to postpone any planned trips after closing down roads following unsuccessful attempts earlier to briefly reopened them to traffic.

“We all knew it (bad weather) was coming,” said senior emergency official Damir Trut for regional N1 television. “I am really surprised people didn’t listen.”

Natalia Turbic, local emergency official in Gracac in central Croatia, said about 300 people have stayed in the reception centres that have been set up because of the situation.

Others sought places in private accommodation in the area, she said.

State television HRT reported that hundreds of people that couldn’t reach the reception centres stayed in buses and cars or looked for gas station cafes nearby which opened their doors for stranded motorists and passengers.

People were lying on the floor or sleeping on chairs, HRT said. A group of football fans who were travelling from the capital Zagreb to the coastal town of Split were among those stuck on the way.

“There is no use in getting irritated,” Melita Ancic, a bus passenger, told HRT. “These are extraordinary circumstances. We just need to be patient.”

Marijan Grubisic was travelling from Germany to Bosnia when he got stranded. He told HRT that “we didn’t expect something like this”.

“It’s been tough, lots of snow, very hard, very cold,” he said.

While the situation was most dramatic in Croatia, problems were also reported in western Serbia and higher-altitude regions of Bosnia.

Serbia’s state railway company said that trains to Montenegro were not running, mostly because of fallen trees and problems in power supply in areas near the two countries’ border.

The towns of Prijepolje and Bajina Basta were without electricity overnight Sunday to Monday, the Tanjug news agency reported.

Bosnian authorities said on Monday that heavy snow and wind have slowed down traffic throughout the country, especially in the mountains.

Traffic authorities urged caution, saying landslides and fallen trees are causing further problems.

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