A massive snowstorm in the Nordic countries left at least 1,000 vehicles stranded for more than 24 hours before most motorists were rescued on Thursday morning, thanks to road crews, police and the military. Photo by Johan Nilsson/EPA-EFE
January 4 (UPI) — Stranded motorists were evacuated after being stranded by a massive snowstorm, leaving at least 1,000 vehicles stranded on a major road in Sweden for more than 24 hours, officials reported late Thursday.
The authorities said that the migrants were stuck along the main road between the Skane region and southern Sweden, and it took police, rescue crews and the army to work throughout the night to free them. People were told they could get their cars back later.
“It's complete chaos,” said police spokeswoman Evelina Olsson. “The problem is that it snows so hard that the road is covered in snow just half an hour after it is plowed.”
The army was sent to deliver food and water to stranded motorists, and most of them had been released by Thursday morning. Officials said later in the day that they were still working to free about 180 trucks and their drivers stranded on the E22.
The travel chaos comes during a frigid blast in the Nordic countries and a drop in temperatures that has left Sweden, Finland and Norway in a deep freeze. A snowstorm in Denmark trapped motorists on a road near Aarhus on Wednesday.
The official weather station in northern Sweden recorded its coldest night in a quarter of a century 25 years ago this week, recording an overnight low of -43.6 degrees Celsius.
The closure occurred quickly as blizzard conditions made the E22 impassable in both directions around 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday, immediately forcing hundreds of cars to stop in snow drifts between Horby and Kristianstad.
It took until Wednesday evening for snowplows to arrive to begin working to free people trapped in vehicles, some of whom had medical problems, including diabetes, authorities said.
Many motorists report running their cars at regular intervals to keep warm.
Bus and train traffic in the area was canceled on Thursday morning, as rescuers continued to work to free stranded motorists by cutting the central barrier of the road.
Most vehicles had been disinfected by Thursday morning, but authorities continued to warn against non-essential travel.
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