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Snow, Cold Plague Eastern Europe

February 14, 1999

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Army helicopters dropped food to scores of snow-bound Hungarian villages Sunday and border crossings to Ukraine were sealed for a fifth day because of heavy snow and high winds in central and eastern Europe.

Three more deaths resulting from the severe winter weather were recorded Sunday, pushing Hungary’s death toll to 19 since the storm began Wednesday, and eight deaths were reported over the weekend in Slovakia.

In the Czech Republic, a rescue team on Sunday found the bodies of three cross-country skiers who froze to death in the Giant Mountains of eastern Bohemia. The three _ a husband and wife, both 48, and a 25-year-old woman _ had been missing since Friday, the CTK news agency reported.

In Poland, three people died over the weekend, including a 44-year-old and a 54-year-old man found frozen to death in a field in southeastern Poland. A woman, whose age was unknown, was found on a road in western Poland.

Some 294 Hungarian communities remained inaccessible by road Sunday, authorities said. Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg County in the east broke a century-old record Saturday with 27 inches of snow. With the high winds, snow drifts reached 13 feet.

Hungarian troops were working around the clock to provide aid. In addition to helicopters, the army was using 200 armored vehicles to deliver supplies, clear roads and rescue people needing medical help.

The latest fatalities included a drunken man found dead at a bus stop and an 83-year-old woman hit by a truck backing up in heavy snow, said Arpad Banki, a spokesman for the national police.

In Bulgaria, state radio said 44 villages remained without electricity due to the storm.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic also called in their armies to clear roads and restore access over the weekend. Czech authorities said Sunday that virtually all roads were open again.

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