Freak Russian blizzard: Mad snow storm swallows cars, streets, buildings in Far East
The cold and snowy season began in Russia's Far East – including the cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk – on Dec. 1, the first day of winter proper according to the calendar. Yet municipal services were not ready to deal with weather conditions, people on social networks complained.
Snowfall in Khabarovsk – reportedly the heaviest in decades – forced the city authorities to announce the state of emergency and call in military to aid with the storm's aftermath.
Harsh weather conditions caused traffic to come to a standstill, with people being unable to use either public transport or their own cars.
Challenged to not only find and then dig their cars out from under the snow, drivers also had to push their vehicles when they were stuck on snow and ice-covered roads, as well as stopping them from moving uncontrollably.
In Vladivostok, cars were sliding down the road, crashing into other vehicles, with drivers trying to stop cars, including a truck, with their bodies. A YouTube video showed a dozen cars being damaged in an icy frenzy.
The large-scale cyclone brought a month-and-a-half of snowfall in just one day in Khabarovsk, where uncleared roads caused bread shortages in local shops, which were inaccessible to delivery trucks. The situation was made worse by abandoned vehicles on the roads, left by their owners, unable to deal with the snow.
Power cutoffs were reported in several areas, due to broken wires. Some 10,000 people, rescuers included, were dealing with the storm, having helped over 1,100 cars, 44 buses and 40 heavy trucks, the local Emergencies Ministry reported.
Thousands of kilometers to the west, the first winter snow – a much lighter one – was more welcome in Moscow, the Russian capital. It helped clear the air of pollution, Tass news agency reported, with worrying air contamination being caused by several emission releases over the past month.