A winter storm pounded central and southern Ukraine, claiming the lives of at least five individuals in Ukraine and three in Moldova. The relentless snowfall and powerful winds disrupted electricity in hundreds of towns and villages and led to the closure of highways.
Reports indicate that 19 people suffered injuries in Ukraine, while an additional 10 were injured in Moldova. Weather forecasts suggest the continuation of harsh conditions, with snow and rain expected across Ukraine on Tuesday.
This extreme weather event unfolded while a significant number of troops manned frontline positions in the ongoing 21-month conflict with Russia. Concerns heightened over potential air strikes targeting the power grid by Moscow during the winter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, addressing the nation in his evening broadcast, confirmed the deaths of five individuals in the southern Odesa region and indicated the likelihood of further casualties elsewhere.
Emergency services reported power outages in 882 localities, causing traffic disruptions on 10 highways and leaving over 1,500 trucks stranded. Schools in southern Ukraine and Moldova were forced to close due to the weather conditions.
The strong winds led to snowdrifts reaching depths of up to two meters (six feet) in certain areas, as mentioned by Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko.
Authorities shared distressing images of damaged power grid infrastructure, fallen trees, rescuers aiding individuals stranded in snowdrifts, and vehicles being towed away from snow-covered roads.
The central Kyiv area, along with the southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions, experienced severe power cuts. Initially affecting 40,000 homes in the Kyiv region, by 6:30 p.m., over 15,000 homes remained without electricity.