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24 February 2024

Snowstorm kills eight in Ukraine and Moldova, hundreds of towns lose power

By Reuters

A winter storm lashed central and southern Ukraine, killing at least five people in Ukraine and three in neighbouring Moldova, with snow and high winds knocking out power to hundreds of towns and villages and shutting highways
At least 19 people were injured in Ukraine and a further 10 in Moldova. Forecasters said more bad weather was on the way, with snow and rain forecast throughout Ukraine on Tuesday.
The extreme weather struck 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.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaking in his nightly video address, said five people had died in southern Odesa region and suggested there might be others elsewhere.
Emergency services said the power remained out in 882 localities. Traffic was halted on 10 highways and more than 1,500 trucks were stranded.
Schools were closed in both southern Ukraine and in Moldova.
High winds left drifting snow up to two metres (six feet) deep in some places, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.
Ukrainian authorities shared images of damaged power grid facilities, toppled trees and rescuers helping people to climb out of drifts and towing cars away from snow-covered roads.
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.
In Moldova, two people were found frozen to death in a car in the east of the country and another outside the capital.
Ukraine's border service said that two border crossings in Odesa region to Moldova reopened after a temporary suspension on Sunday, but traffic conditions remained difficult. 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 were injured by falling trees in Odesa region, the emergency service said.
On Monday evening, the boiler facility in Odesa, where a 100-metre (yard) pipe broke and fell on Sunday, resumed operations.
"Currently, heating is provided in a test mode for 120,000 customers in Odessa. People's homes should be warm by morning," Oleh Kiper, the regional governor, said on Telegram.