Rescue Operations In Hungary Under Way

  • 15 Mar 2013 6:00 AM
Rescue Operations In Hungary Under Way
Severe weather conditions including snowstorms and gale-force winds affecting most of Europe have reached Hungary. Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér put the police force and disaster management forces, including ambulance services and on high alert on Thursday afternoon in order to ensure a maximum response to the increasingly serious situation.

After returning from the European Council meeting on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Orbán will visit Police Headquarters to be informed by the Head of the National Disaster Management Authority (OKF) about the situation and on-going rescue operations.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Interior asked organisers to either cancel outdoor events on March 15, or move them to an indoor location to ensure personal safety. Outdoor state events marking the anniversary of the 1848-49 revolution and war of independence have also been cancelled due to the extreme weather conditions.

The National Disaster Management Authority (OKF) is assisting with operations at over 1000 sites and a total of 227 heated facilities for temporary shelters were opened by the police to help provide for approximately 80 000 people. Citizens who do not wish to abandon their vehicles have police buses on standby where they can warm themselves. Snow has blocked access to 57 towns and villages, affecting 13.327 residents, OKF Chief György Bakondi said.

National Chief of Police Károly Papp stated that over the past 24 hours a total of 4000 people and more than 2000 cars have been rescued in Northern and Western Hungary. Traffic has been blocked on five rail routes and about 100 public roads, while three border crossings and a port have had to be closed, he added.

Hungarian Armed Forces joined rescue operations on Thursday evening with personnel carriers and several all-weather vehicles, including T-72 tanks, to help rescue cars and trucks stuck in snowdrifts as high as 3 metres. The Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK) is participating in the rescue operation on the M1 motorway, while the army is assisting with medical tasks, such as transporting blood supplies and ensuring dialysis patients receive treatment.


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