Kyiv, 28 November 2023 (TDI): A severe winter storm unleashed its fury across central and southern regions of Ukraine, claiming lives, disrupting power to hundreds of communities, and causing significant transportation closures in both Ukraine and Moldova.
The devastating storm, marked by heavy snow and powerful winds, resulted in the tragic loss of at least five lives in Ukraine and three in Moldova. Reports indicate 19 individuals in Ukraine and 10 in Moldova have sustained injuries amidst the relentless weather conditions.
Forecasters have issued warnings of ongoing inclement weather, predicting continuous snow and rain throughout Ukraine on Tuesday, exacerbating the already precarious situation.
The severe weather onslaught struck at a critical time as tens of thousands of troops stand vigil at front-line positions in Ukraine’s long-standing conflict with Russia. Concerns loom over potential attacks on the power grid by Moscow through aerial strikes during this winter period.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, addressing the nation in his nightly video communication, confirmed the unfortunate fatalities in the southern Odesa region and expressed concerns about potential further casualties in other areas affected by the storm.
Emergency services have reported persistent power outages affecting 882 localities, with traffic disruptions on 10 highways and over 1,500 stranded trucks. Schools in both southern Ukraine and Moldova have been compelled to shut down due to the extreme conditions.
Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko reported snow drifts reaching heights of up to two meters (six feet) in certain areas due to high winds.
Ukrainian authorities have shared distressing visuals of damaged power grid infrastructures, uprooted trees, and rescue efforts aiding individuals trapped in snowbanks while towing stranded vehicles from snow-covered roads.
The impact of the storm has been especially severe in central Kyiv, southern Odesa, and Mykolaiv regions, with Kyiv region alone initially affecting 40,000 households. Over 15,000 homes in the region continue to endure power disruptions.
In Moldova, tragic incidents occurred as two individuals were found frozen inside a vehicle in the eastern part of the country, and another outside the capital.
Despite temporary closures of two border crossings between Odesa region and Moldova, operations have resumed, albeit under challenging traffic conditions, according to Ukraine’s border service.
In response to the crisis, authorities in the Black Sea port of Odesa have urged residents to remain indoors, cautioning about interruptions in water supply due to power failures affecting essential pumps.
Efforts to restore normalcy are underway, with the heating facility in Odesa now operational after a 100-meter pipe collapse on Sunday. Oleh Kiper, the regional governor, assured a test-run providing heating for 120,000 residents, anticipating homes to be warm by morning.