Hungary uses tanks to reach snowbound motorists

image source, Hungarian Defence Forces
image captionTanks could be seen along with other tracked military vehicles

Tanks have been deployed to reach snowbound motorists in Hungary as cold weather causes transport chaos across eastern Europe.

T-72 battle tanks trundled along icy roads, while thousands of people waited in cars on the M1 motorway from Budapest to Vienna.

Many had been stuck on the road since Thursday evening.

In Bulgaria, a woman was killed when high winds brought down scaffolding in the town of Gabrovo.

Outside Hungary

  • Heavy snow paralysed parts of south-eastern Poland, where police were redirecting heavy lorries for fear they would get stuck
  • At least 19,000 households were left without power in eastern Slovakia after high winds damaged the grid and lorries backed up on a road
  • Melting snow caused flooding in Kosovo, with reports that a girl of 10 was drowned.

A national holiday in Hungary on Friday meant many people were travelling when the extreme weather struck, the BBC's Nick Thorpe reports from Budapest.

A series of accidents on the M1 trapped travellers as the snow built up around them.

On Friday afternoon, the interior ministry sent text messages to all mobile phone subscribers, telling people to stay in their cars as long as their fuel lasted, then move to other vehicles to stay warm.

Meteorological agencies had predicted the cold weather but the sheer number of people trapped in the snow appears to have overwhelmed disaster management services, our correspondent says.

Wind gusts of up to 100km/h (60mph) and snowdrifts up to 1m (3ft) high were reported. The wind is forecast to drop significantly while freezing temperatures will continue.

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