Heavy snowfall baffles drivers and road keepers alike

23-02-2001

The Czech Republic seems to be paralysed by heavy snowfall which started on Thursday night and have continued to envelope the country. Meteorologists say this is the biggest snow calamity of the winter. Alena Skodova reports:

Parts of the main motorway leading to Brno were impassable this morning, and some drivers spent nearly the whole night stuck in their cars. Many ran out of petrol, so there was no chance for people inside to warm up. One of them said he felt like he'd spent the night in a cemetery. "A little light here and there, and that's all," he described his dire straits.

In the mountains the rescuer service is warning against avalanches, tourists, who had come to mountain resorts to enjoy skiing, are stuck in their chalets. Some of their owners are well aware of what might happen in winter, and they have huge food and drink supplies to help them survive as they're cut off from the rest of the world.

Prague was no exception, and people from the suburbs had particular problems getting to work on time, like an assistant from a nearby clothing shop who commutes to central Prague from a housing estate on the outskirts.

"Well, my journey this morning took half an hour longer than usual. I went by tram, which came on time, but we had to stop every now and then, because there were several accidents along the road."

Up in the street, a man was sweeping the pavement, and I talked to the driver of a repairmen's car:

"It's terrible, but we'll have to manage. Fortunately, we work only in Prague."

In Prague, elderly people seem be to having the biggest problems. The pavements are slushy and slippery, and the snow continued to fall for most of the day. So are the sweepers in Prague doing enough to keep the streets clean?

"I don't know, I've just come out of my house. I saw a snow-clearing lorry going through the streets a while ago, but otherwise I don't go outside too often, I had an operation recently.

On my way to work in the morning I saw a little boy with his grandmother. "Grandma, is it Christmas today?" he asked. "No, why do you say so?" The little boy answered, "Because it's snowing so beautifully."

23-02-2001