A strong winter storm paralyzes Austria

15,000 tourists were left stranded as transportation came to a halt

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    A snowplow cleans a closed snow-covered road after a heavy snow fall [AFP]

    Since this past Thursday, Austria has been reeling in the aftermath of a major winter snow storm.

    Heavier than average snow and high winds have closed highways and railroads across the country, while leaving several thousand homes without power.  

    With ski lifts closed as well, approximately 15,000 winter tourists were trapped with little to do in the resorts of Lech Zurs Stuben and Gargellen.

    On Saturday a military helicopter safely rescued 52 people who had been stranded for two days at a mountain refuge in Vorarlbergat.

    Since the early weekend, some access roads have been reopened, but they have been quickly jammed with the surge of travelers trying to leave.

    The avalanche threat continues and has also been raised to hazard level 4, out of a possible 5, across many parts of the country as potentially another 30cm of snow is expected to fall in the next few days.

    Heavy snow is now moving into the southeastern parts of Europe where even the southern coast of Turkey could see 20cm by midweek.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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