Romanians are struggling with snow, blizzards and biting cold.
After a mild December, January came with heavy snow, blizzards and extremely low temperatures. Under the circumstances, schools in Bucharest in 21 other counties, that is almost half of the country, did not open on Monday, and they will stay closed on Tuesday as well in Bucharest and 16 counties. A number of people, in particular pregnant women, sick people and elderly citizens, have requested medical assistance. Doctors have warned people with medical problems to avoid travelling if possible. To reach their patients in areas blocked by snow, tens of doctors and paramedics faced the snow and the blizzard, with journeys of a few tens of km taking them hours to complete. Special attention was given to the homeless.
In Bucharest and other cities, hot meals, warm clothing and blankets have been distributed to the people without homes who refused to spend the night in social centres. 40 electronic panels put up by the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations in Bucharest warn the population about the cold weather. People are recommended to avoid long journeys, not to expose themselves to the cold, to drink hot tea and use suitable clothing and footwear, while also avoiding overheating the body and calling 112 in an emergency.
The police have requested motorists to travel only if necessary and if they have no other available means of transport. The heavy snow that fell especially in the east, south and south-east also led to power cuts in many places and disrupted road, rail and naval travel. Roads have been closed, tens of trains cancelled and a number of domestic and international flights have been delayed. The Black Sea ports reopened on Sunday after being closed due to bad weather, including 12-m-high waves.
There were also problems on the river Danube. Perseus, the biggest icebreaker in Romania, went in action on certain sections of the river, while a tugboat has been patrolling the river to break the floating ice. Because of bad weather, 15 cars registered in Romania were stranded in north-eastern Bulgaria. Their passengers, Romanian holidaymakers, should have been home on Friday, but the roads were closed in the neighbouring country. So they were stranded for three days only 30 km from the border. Many of them ran out of money, food and fuel. After being notified by the authorities in Bucharest, the Bulgarian authorities sent a police crew and a snow removal machine to unblock the road to the border, so the around 100 Romanian citizens stranded in Bulgaria were able to reach Romania. (Translated by C. Mateescu)