Montenegro state of emergency

2012-02-11 22:43

Podgorica/Bekgrade - Montenegro declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening to deal with the massive blizzard that has blanketed the small central European country with up to two metres of snow.

The decision was made by the defence and security council, headed by Prime Minister Igor Luksic in an emergency procedure which bypassed parliament.

It has snowed without let-up for more than 24 hours prior to the declaration, and gale-force winds have buffeted the smallest and mostly mountainous former Yugoslav republic.

Many roads in Montengro have been impassable for days and shortages of food are reported in the blocked north of the country. At least three people froze to death so far, but the toll may increase when rescuers finally gain access to remote areas.

The national power company, strained to the limit, said it was frantically working to keep the system stable, but has already made plans for a scheme of power cuts.

The blizzard has dumped more than two metres of snow in the ski resort Zabljak. More bad weather was expected in the coming days, prompting the authorities to take urgent steps.

The snowstorm that has hit Montenegro the hardest has also wreaked havoc across Western Balkans, in Bosnia and Serbia. Montenegro hugs a 120-km stretch of the Adriatic coast.