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Winter storm creates problems across Europe

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Two girls from the Philippines take a self-timer photo in front of a snow surrounded ancient Colosseum, in Rome Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. A rare snowfall blanketed Rome on Friday, forcing the closure of the Colosseum over fears tourists would slip on the icy ruins, and leaving buses struggling to climb the city's slushy hills. Other parts of the country experienced frigid temperatures unseen in years. Authorities stopped visitors from entering the Colosseum, the adjacent Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A farmer tends his livestock on the snow covered high ground near Hawes northern England Saturday Feb. 4, 2012. Britain like large areas of Europe are suffering from a cold snap. (AP Photo/ John Giles/PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    An homeless person eats her meal on a doorstep in Rome Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. People used government shovels to clear piazzas and children enjoyed another day off school as Rome awoke to about 10 centimeters (4 inches) of fresh snow. The second snowfall in two days, a rare event in Italy's capital, left St. Peter's Basilica covered in a dazzling white mantle on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Bosnian man shovels deep snow to clear the path for pedestrians, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. Eastern Europe's unrelenting and deadly cold snap produced another heavy snowfall in the Balkans on Saturday, trapping people in their homes and cars, causing power outages, and closing airports, railway stations and bus services. In Bosnia, about 30 people whose vehicles were trapped in a tunnel south of Sarajevo called local radio stations to appeal for help, saying they had children with them and were running out of fuel.(AP Photo/Amel Emric)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A Bosnian walks past a frozen tram in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. Eastern Europe's unrelenting and deadly cold snap produced another heavy snowfall in the Balkans on Saturday, trapping people in their homes and cars, causing power outages, and closing airports, railway stations and bus services. In Bosnia, about 30 people whose vehicles were trapped in a tunnel south of Sarajevo called local radio stations to appeal for help, saying they had children with them and were running out of fuel.(AP Photo/Amel Emric)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Rocks are covered with ice near to the beach of Heidkate at the Baltic Sea, northern Germany as temperatures reach minus six degrees Celsius (21.2 Fahrenheit) on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Heribert Proepper)
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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina >> Bosnia’s government declared a state of emergency in its capital on Saturday after Sarajevo was paralyzed by snow, and hundreds of people remained trapped in their homes and vehicles throughout the country.

After a weeklong cold snap that has killed scores of people across Eastern Europe, more than three feet of snow fell in Sarajevo on Saturday, closing roads and public transportation.

Some neighborhoods reported water shortages, and residents struggled to make it to local shops to shore up on food. Several people said they witnessed fist fights in shops over loaves of bread.

But the crisis also produced camaraderie.

In one area of central Sarajevo, men shoveling the deep snow were being given tea, coffee and hamburgers and meatballs that local women had barbecued. One elderly man who didn’t know how to help out stood at an open window of his house playing his clarinet.

The tough winter weather also has hit cities in southern Europe such as Rome, where snowfalls are rare.

On Saturday, the Italian capital woke up to its second snowfall in two days — four inches (10 centimeters) — and some residents used government-distributed shovels to clear sidewalks and piazzas.

Children, meanwhile, enjoyed another day off school.

Schools have been closed in Bosnia for days because of the tough winter weather, and many travelers have been trapped on the country’s roads since Friday evening.

“This is unbelievable. I can’t remember snow like this in the past 30 years, said Mirsada Mitrovic, a resident of Sarajevo. “Maybe when I was a child, but since then nothing like this.”

The state of emergency order said all schools must remain closed in Sarajevo, that women and children should stay at home, and that men should only report to work if their jobs are essential. It also ordered men who own shovels or vehicles big enough to plow snow to help the city clear the streets, especially ones leading to hospitals.

Meanwhile, efforts were under way to rescue hundreds of people trapped on snow-covered highways.

For example, in a tunnel south of Sarajevo, vehicles carrying about 30 people were stuck in a tunnel and called local radio stations to appeal for help, saying they had children with them and were running out of fuel. But when snow plows arrived on the scene, they also got stuck Saturday, officials said.

In neighboring Montenegro, a three-day snowstorm that has closed roads and the main airport in the capital, Podgorica, claimed its first victim: a 54-year-old man who died when an avalanche hit his car on a road near the town of Kolasin.

Even top government officials were waylaid.

The presidents of Serbia and Croatia, who had attended a summit at a ski resort near Sarajevo on Friday, were unable able to immediately leave the mountain after the meeting.

Officials in Serbia said around 60,000 people throughout the country remain cut off by the snow. Seven people have died so far and one is missing, while 23 people have been rescued in the past 24 hours, Serbian emergency police official Predrag Maric.

But the brutal winter weather didn’t stop everyone.

In Moscow, where temperatures sank to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, tens of thousands of people held another massive anti-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rally on Saturday.

The weeklong cold snap — Eastern Europe’s worst in decades — has killed at least 176 people, many of them homeless people, especially in countries such as Ukraine.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s Emergency Ministry said 122 people have died there over the past eight days, including 78 homeless people found on city streets. Nearly 1,600 other residents have been hospitalized with hypothermia and frostbite. Snow and temperatures hovering around 3 degrees Fahrenheit prompted authorities to close schools and colleges, and to cancel bus services.

In Montenegro, police said that more than 100 people, including children on a school trip, were evacuated from the roads blocked by snow and taken to a shelter near Podgorica.

Early Saturday, rescuers reached a minibus with 11 passengers that was trapped for several hours by an avalanche in the Tara River canyon of Montenegro. They were later evacuated by boats over a nearby artificial lake as the roads remained blocked.

With rail services at a standstill across the small nation, Montenegro’s government said it plans to hold an emergency session to discuss ways of coping with the cold snap.

In Austria, temperatures in the western city of Salzburg hovered around 7 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, and a technical problem at a power plant left 10,000 households without heating on Saturday, Austrian news agency APA reported.

Germany recorded the coldest night of the year, with the thermometer plunging to -16 Fahrenheit in the southern town of Oberstdorf, according to the German Weather Service.

 

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AP correspondents contributed to this story from across Europe.

 

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