1,000 evacuated from snow-hit cars, buses in northern Serbia

February 02, 2014 - 2:44:34 am

BELGRADE: Rescuers, army and police have evacuated about 1,000 people from cars and buses stranded in deep snow in northern Serbia, but several hundred people still remain stuck, the government said yesterday.

Authorities have closed down snow-hit roads and banned river traffic on the Danube river because of strong winds, said the government statement.

“The Serbian government is urging citizens not to travel until all danger is fully removed,” the statement added.

Winter so far in Serbia had been exceptionally mild, but over the last week a cold spell and snowstorms have swept across parts of central and eastern Europe. Heavy snow in Bulgaria left dozens of villages without electricity and water and Romanian authorities declared a “code red” weather warning on Wednesday.

Emergency officials in Serbia reported that dozens of cars and two passenger trains remain stranded in the country’s north, flat area where strong winds have been piling up snow drifts, cutting off villages and roads.

Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic — who is tipped to become the new prime minister after snap elections in March — toured the area with other government ministers. Vucic said there are about a dozen columns of cars still stranded.


in CAR recapture rebel-held town

BANGUI: Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) said yesterday they had recaptured the key town of Sibut from rebel fighters, while their mission received pledges of $132 from African countries.

The commander of the African Union force told state radio his troops had taken control of the town from former members of the mainly Muslim Seleka rebellion, leaders of a March 2013 coup that plunged the country in chaos.

“As I speak, MISCA has taken control of the town of Sibut,” said General Tumenta Chomud, referring to the force of around 5,500 peacekeepers deployed in the country. “A Gabonese contingent from MISCA is in place in the town. It is clear that the Seleka fighters can be contained and they will be disarmed.”

Bulgaria to open communist-era secret files

SOFIA: Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev called yesterday for all the communist-era secret services’ files to be opened immediately, still a controversial issue a quarter of the century after the collapse of the former regime.

“After 25 years, the time for keeping secrets has passed....All citizens, school pupils and students have the right to learn, with no intermediary, the truth about totalitarian power,” he said in a national address.

The conservative president said the “worst vice of the transition” that followed the fall of the communist regime on November 10, 1989, was the lack of self-analysis on the preceding four decades of totalitarianism.