Heavy snow paralyzes Danish holiday island

10:40, December 29, 2010      

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Bornholm, situated in the Baltic Sea as the easternmost point of Denmark, has been hit hard by winter this year. Monday the authorities proclaimed a disaster emergency situation. Many old people cannot get out of their houses or get food and necessary medicine. And Tuesday arrived the first contractor's machinery to clear roads for the feet high piles of snow that paralyzes traffic in most parts of the island.

In common speech Bornholm is called the sunshine island and is a popular vacation spot for both Danes and tourists from abroad. The island is unique with its many cliffs and long beaches, where guests enjoy the Danish summer with the most sunshine hours in Denmark.

But this winter it is the number of sunshine hours which has set a record. It is the amount of snow -- not only when it applies to Denmark. Bornholm is among the places in Europe where there have fallen the most snow. Right up to 140 cm. Surpassed only by 160 cm in the Alps.

The unusual amounts of snow and the rough snowstorms have caused major traffic problems for the close to 45,000 inhabitants and for several days, police have advised against all driving on the snowy roads. The local airport has been completely closed and Christmas visitors to family and friends had to celebrate Christmas at the local barracks -- simply because it was not possible to get to the small towns scattered across the island.

The situation is especially serious for older people who do not have a chance to go anywhere or get food and medicine brought in. Supplies of food and fuel are running out for the general public as well. Authorities are considering deploying helicopters to bring the necessary goods and a larger number of snow clearing machines are on their way to the island from the mainland.

So far three large construction vehicles have begun clearing roads and helping people so they can get out of their houses.

It appears that the harsh winter weather will give the people of Bornholm a break, at least for now. The weather forecast promises a bit milder weather and no new snow storms coming in the nearest future.

"If the winter continues as it has done so far it will cost lives," sources on the island to Xinhua.

More snow removal vehicles are expected to arrive at the island during this week. Bornholm just hopes that there will not be more snow.

Source: Xinhua

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