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State of emergency in the Russian Far East after destructive unseasonal ice storm collapses all key infrastructure systems

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Several people froze to death and over 150 000 were left without electricity, water, and heating in the Russian Far East after a destructive unseasonal ice storm hit the region on November 18, 2020. The chief regional meteorologist said wires and trees were encrusted in up to 1.2 cm (0.5 inches) of ice — an occurrence not seen in 30 years​.

In the city of Vladivostok, Russia's Pacific capital, all key systems from electricity, water, and heating to transport and communication collapsed after the storm downed frozen trees and ice-laden power lines.

Temporary accommodation centers were open for residents on November 19, with snow and strong winds continuing into November 20.

The destruction is widespread and the electricity may not be restored to some homes for several days, local authorities said.

Boris Kubay, the chief of the regional meteorological service, said the situation has been aggravated by a strong gale wind 'that breaks everything.'

Kubay said the ice storm was a result of a clash between two storms — one carrying hot air and another carrying cold.

Wires and trees were encrusted in up to 1.2 cm (0.5 inches) of ice — an occurrence not seen in 30 years, Kubay said.

Unseasonal freezing rain also affected the central parts of the country late November 18, including the capital Moscow and its region, as well as Kaluga, Smolensk, and Tula.

Moscow airport reportedly canceled about 30 flights due to freezing rain.

Featured image credit: VL

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