Capital Nur-Sultan under state of emergency as powerful winter storm hits Kazakhstan

Capital Nur-Sultan under state of emergency as powerful winter storm hits Kazakhstan

Authorities in Kazakhstan's capital city Nur-Sultan (previously named Astana) have declared a state of emergency on Monday, January 27, 2020, due to a powerful winter storm that has been battering the country since Thursday, January 23, unleashing strong winds and heavy snowfall.

"We have declared a state of emergency in the city. At a moment, the emergency situations commission is going to hold a meeting in Akmola, East Kazakhstan, Pavlodar regions," said Deputy Minister of Interior of Kazakhstan Yuri Ilyin.

Transportation links from and to the city were also cut, while all schools remained closed, as well as several highways across the country.

In addition, spokesman for Nur-Sultan International Airport, Zhenis Akhmetzhanov, said all flights were postponed as wind gusts reached 72 to 86 km/h (45 to 54 mph).

The Ministry of Internal Affairs also showed a video on the situation in Akkol.

"Citizens are still in evacuation points since the road to Nur-Sultan has not yet been completely cleared. In addition, a blizzard and a drop in temperature are expected again-- this could lead to new emergencies on the highway," said the department.

In another footage, cars can be seen stuck on the tracks in the middle of a raging blizzard. A snow collapse formed on the roads of the Akmola region, trapping over 500 cars that were rescued by emergency responders. 

Meanwhile, the health department reported that about 60 people were affected by the severe weather in the city.

"In total, from January 25 to 26, 2020, the number of people affected by weather conditions was 60. Of these, 32 were children."

One case of frostbite among children was also reported. No severe cases so far.

13 000 volunteers have started helping in snow cleanups as part of a campaign, which was announced at a briefing by the chairman of the city headquarters of volunteers.

According to forecasts, gusts are expected to whip at a speed of 96 km/h (60 mph). With this, all domestic and international flights in and out of the city are delayed for an indefinite period.

The emergency department advised residents not to leave the capital until the status is lifted.

Featured image credit: World 24/YouTube (stillshot)

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