World News

Heavy snowfall blocks roads, cuts power in Europe

A man shovels snow from his car in Bucharest February 8, 2010. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

SOFIA (Reuters) - Heavy snow caused traffic chaos in Bulgaria and Romania Monday, closing major highways, delaying flights and trains and cutting off electricity.

In Austria, where 12 skiers and snowboarders have died in the past week, authorities raised the avalanche risk because of heavy snowfall and high winds.

Strong winds and heavy snow over the past 24 hours have blocked several roads including a motorway in southern Romania. Many schools were closed, including in the capital Bucharest, where the snow was up to 40 cm deep. About 60 trains were cancelled.

In Bulgaria, which saw about 60 cm of snow in the north and northeast, more than 160 cities and towns were left without electricity. Three districts declared a state of emergency as snow drifts closed roads and cut them off.

The Ruse-Giurgiu border crossing between the two countries is closed to trucks, border officials said.

The snowfall delayed more than 25 flights at Sofia airport and closed a stretch of highway linking Sofia to the Black Sea city of Burgas.

Forecasters expect the weather to improve from Thursday.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia and Radu Marinas in Bucharest; Editing by Janet Lawrence