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Ice storm triggers more evacuations

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Ice storm triggers more evacuations
Photo: APA
20:37 CET+01:00
Conditions worsened in the on-going ice storm in Lower Austria and Burgenland on Thursday, as authorities resorted to tanks to get supplies into towns cut off by thousands of fallen trees and ice-covered roads.

Large areas of the eastern part of Austria have been brought to a standstill, with fire services calling in the military after finding roads impassable in emergency vehicles.

The weather conditions mean roads, trees and houses are covered in at least a centimetre of solid ice, leaving thousands of homes cut off without power.

The weight of ice is such that trees with trunks at least a metre thick are unable to support themselves.

The ongoing state of emergency has seen more than 60 major roads closed, with residents warned to stay indoors due to the danger from falling trees and branches, and schools closed.

Martina Bierbaumer, who lives in the isolated town of Rosalia reached today only by a tank, told the Oesterreich newspaper that she could hear trees falling every few minutes, and said the atmosphere was "restless and fearful".

Evacuations continue in the Hohe Wand, some 45km south of Vienna, where residents in stone houses who previously were planning to ride out the storm have been ordered to leave their homes as the safety situation has deteriorated drastically.

A thaw in temperatures is on the way, as further east temperatures are rising into the teens, suggesting an easing of conditions by the weekend.

Wolfgang Bierbauer of the mountain rescue service told Radio Lower Austria "It's too dangerous now in the houses, and on top of that, no one can get through to the houses any more."

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