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Heavy Snow Blankets Sarajevo, City Declares State of Emergency

December 13, 1995

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Almost two feet of snow fell on Sarajevo in 24 hours, blocking public transportation and cutting water and power to much of the Bosnian capital on Wednesday.

Near-record snowfalls also were recorded in Tuzla, future headquarters for the 20,000 U.S. troops participating in the 60,000-member NATO force policing Bosnia’s peace, and in Pale, the Serb stronghold east of Sarajevo.

In Tuzla, about 50 miles north of Sarajevo, cars and trucks, including several U.N. vehicles, slid into ditches along the twisting country roads around the airfield, blanketed overnight with snow.

U.S. Air Force pilots were able to land several C-130 cargo planes filled with supplies, using a radar system set up just days ago.

U.N. and Bosnian workers continued to prepare the air base for the more than 1,000 Americans who will be working there. They carted away debris from a gravel parking lot and started enlarging it to make way for barracks and tents where soldiers will work.

``There’s even a hardtop here where we can put up a basketball court,″ said Army Maj. Steve Reise.

The snow turned Pale into what it was before the war _ a pretty mountain village at its best when covered in white. Serb children made snowmen and threw snowballs as their parents dug out from yard-high drifts.

In government-held Sarajevo, two feet accumulated in what officials said was the biggest snowfall the city had seen since before the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Officials declared a state of emergency, and asked residents to help clear snow from the streets.

The snow created havoc for water and power supplies, already battered by 3 1/2 years of war, and most of the city was without electricity and running water.

Maj. Simon Haselock, spokesman for NATO forces arriving in Sarajevo, said the weather may slow deployment of troops for a short period, but said that the soldiers had prepared for it.

The main road connecting the Adriatic coast with central and northern parts of Bosnia was closed early Wednesday after icy rain and strong winds knocked down power lines.

In the town of Tomislavgrad in western Bosnia, life came to a standstill because of the snow. The Croatian news agency HINA said city workers could not even clear the main road through town.

Update hourly