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Avalanche blocks Kyrgyz strategic road between Bishkek and Osh

February 01, 2014, 12:14 UTC+3 BISHKEK
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BISHKEK, February 01, 11:44 /ITAR-TASS/. Kyrgyzstan’s authorities have announced closure of a strategic 600-kilometre road between Bishkek and Osh, which connects the republic’s northern and southern regions, press service of the emergency situations ministry reported on Saturday.

“The road is closed temporarily as at night a big avalanche blocked it,” the press service said. “Now, we are using many special vehicles to clear the passage.”

An avalanche of over one million cubic metres descended at the 246th kilometre, where the road crosses mountain passes of over three thousand metres above the sea level. The snow drift there is about 30 metres high and almost 60 metres wide.

The emergency situations ministry reports many vehicles blocked on either side of the snowdrift.

“We have organised at several locations tents, where drivers and passengers may get warm, receive food and medical assistance,” the press service said. The ministry hopes to have the road cleared on Sunday. However, the ministry’s experts say avalanches remain possible at the road’s several parts, and thus it is complicated to forecast when the road will be opened.

The freezing temperatures in Kyrgyzstan add to the difficult situation. On January 31, in the country’s several regions the temperature at night went as low as 25-30 degrees Celsius. The snowfall, which continues on Saturday, adds to the threat of new avalanches in the mountainous regions.

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