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Heavy Snow Keeps Balkans in Deep Freeze

December 12, 2012

By Predrag Milic, The Associated Press

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PODGORICA, Montenegro - Blizzards blocked roads, stranded villages, disrupted power supplies and shut down an airport in the Balkans on Tuesday, the fourth straight day of tough winter weather in the region of southeastern Europe.

In one of the worst hit areas, snowdrifts and avalanches blocked roads in hilly northern Montenegro, where about 3 feet of snow fell overnight, officials said.

Across the border in southwestern Serbia, heavy snowfall blocked roads to more than a dozen villages, with some left without electricity and schools being closed for the rest of the week, officials said.

"We have got heavy machinery out and we are doing all we can," said emergency official Samir Bakic. "The wind is making the effort more difficult."

At least nine deaths across the region have been blamed on the snow and deep freeze, with temperatures as low as 5 degrees.

Elsewhere in Serbia, where snow began to fall Saturday, officials said road crews were still struggling to even clear the central squares of some cities.

Predrag Maric, Serbia`s top emergency official, apologized on Tuesday for failing to clear roads over the weekend, when hundreds of people were stranded in buses and cars.

The milder climates of Montenegro`s capital, Podgorica, and the nation`s Adriatic coast usually escape tough winter weather, but snow is blanketing Podgorica, too, and closed its airport.

In Bosnia, some areas were left without electricity.

In Croatia, doctors warned the elderly and sick to stay indoors as hospitals reported dozens of cases of broken limbs from falls on the ice and snow.

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Jovana Gec contributed to this report from Serbia, and Aida Cerkez from Bosnia.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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Story image: Small trees are seen in a snow covered field near the village of Kovilj, some 40 km. northwest of Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

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