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Powerful snowstorm injures 13, knocks out power across Ukraine

emergency workers release cars which are stuck in snow during a heavy snow storm in mykolaiv region
Emergency workers release cars which are stuck in snow during a heavy snow storm in Mykolaiv region

More than 2,000 settlements in central and southern Ukraine faced power cuts on Monday after a severe snowstorm lashed the region, injuring at least 13 people and forcing authorities to close schools and 14 motorways.

The extreme weather comes as tens of thousands of troops man front-line positions in the 21-month-old war with Russia amid fears Moscow could attack the power grid with air strikes this winter.

Strong wind and massive snowfall led to drifts in some places up to two meters (6.56 ft) high, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Ukrainian authorities shared images of damaged power grid facilities, toppled trees and rescuers helping people to climb out of snow piles and towing cars away from snow-covered roads.

As of 8 p.m. local time (1800 GMT), 883 settlements remained without power and about 1,500 cargo trucks were stuck on the roads, the state emergency service said on Telegram messenger. Traffic on 10 motorways remained suspended.

Central Kyiv and southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions were the hardest hit by the power cuts, with 40,000 homes initially affected in Kyiv region, authorities said. By 6:30 p.m, more than 15,000 homes in the region were still without electricity.

On Sunday, the mayor of the Black Sea port of Odesa urged residents to stay at home, and authorities warned that water supplies were being interrupted by power cuts that stopped pumps from working.

Eight people suffered hypothermia and five more were injured by falling trees in the Odesa region, the emergency service said.

On Monday evening, the work of the boiler facility in Odesa, where a 100-metre (109 yard) pipe broke and fell on Sunday, was restored.

“Currently, heating is provided in a test mode for 120 thousand consumers in Odessa. People’s homes should be warm by morning,” Oleh Kiper, the regional governor said on Telegram.

Authorities have already issued another storm warning for Tuesday, with more snowfall and rain expected across the country.

Ukraine’s border service said that two border crossings in Odesa region to Moldova reopened after temporary suspension on Sunday but traffic conditions remained difficult.

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