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2 Dec, 2012 18:08

200km-long traffic jam paralyzes Russian freeway

Thousands of drivers have been trapped since Thursday in a huge traffic jam on a major freeway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, caused by heavy snowfall.

At its worst point the line of trucks stretched 200 kilometers, starting in the Moscow region and ending in the Tver region.The Emergencies ministry dispatched some 175 rescuers and 100 snow-cleaning vehicles in response to the heavy snowfall.By early Monday morning local time, the traffic had recovered, authorities said adding that the vehicles are now moving at their normal speed.On Saturday morning the ministry said, that the situation on the M-10 federal road had been stabilized, stressing that authorities had provided trapped drivers with hot food, shelter, medical help and fuel. But according to local media, which managed to speak to drivers, some of them had rather different experiences, saying that they didn’t get any help. Though, other motorists reportedly saw rescuers handing out hot drinks and sandwiches near the city of Tver.Meanwhile, volunteers from Tver had already started to collect food and water for blocked drivers. Traffic police said earlier their patrols would help with delivering provisions to motorists.The Emergencies ministry also recommended drivers to temporarily restrain from using the M-10 federal road, choosing the M-9 instead.Some of the truck drivers spent 3 days stuck on the road, with media reports stressing the situation was next to critical, as drivers lacked food, water and fuel.The heavy congestion started forming on Thursday after heavy snowfall hit Russia’s west, culminating in massive downpours of rain and snow on Friday. The situation was aggravated by strong winds and a thaw, which made the snow more difficult to clear.The regional Emergencies center planned to normalize the grave situation on the M-10 federal road by 6pm on December the 2nd.Most of the vehicles in trouble were without winter tires and unable to grip the slippery road, limiting their ability to move.