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Heavy snow leaves 5,000 without electricity

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15:42 CET+01:00
Last year's VasaloppetSnow storms have once again caught Sweden napping, leaving thousands without electricity and at least three dead. Several hundred people over the country have been injured in car accidents caused by the treacherous motoring conditions and in Stockholm alone 200 people were admitted to casualty suffering broken arms and bones after slipping or falling in the snow.

A 19-year old man died and his 22-year old friend was seriously injured on Monday morning when their car was involved in a frontal collision with a lorry. The accident occurred on route 24 between Laholm and Mellbystrand in Halland. A 50-year old Stockholm man collapsed from a suspected heart-attack whilst clearing a path for his car and was pronounced dead-on-arrival at St Görans Hospital. And in the early hours of Monday morning a man was killed when he was hit by a lorry in Gamleby, north of Västervik.

5,000 Swedes have been without electricity since the weekend and 15,000 phone lines have been down because of the snowy weather. In Kalmar alone almost 2000 homes were without power. Similarly, in Kronobergs County just over 2000 were still without power by Tuesday lunchtime, according to news agency TT.

DN reported that Fortum's customers who were without electricity on Monday have now had the power restored, as have the majority of Vattenfall's customers.

Jakob Holmström, a spokesman for Sydkraft, told TT that the company will receive help of a military helicopter as it seeks to restore power lines.

"It's going to fly low over the powerlines so the snow can be blown away by the propellors," Holmström told TT.

DN also reported that 1,500 telephone lines were down, although it seems this is primarily because not enough repairs have been made since the storms hit Sweden at the start of the year.

In spite of the chaos, at least the organisers of the annual Vasa Ski Race (Vasaloppet) are smiling.

"It's about as perfect as possible," Rolf Hammar, general secretary of Vasaloppet told DN, commenting on the heavy snow that's fallen. "When you're as lucky as this it makes you feel like buying a few lottery tickets."

With more snow predicted for the Dalarna region, Hammar admits "Each centimetre of snow is priceless. Hammar's only fear is the dreaded "plus degrees" which would melt the snow.

Trying to make a drama out of a crisis, Aftonbladet looked to blame the greenhouse effect for the snow; nevertheless, the boffin they wheeled out didn't think it had much to do with it.

"The fact that the weather's been so changeable this year," said Marukku Rummukainen from the Swedish Meterological and Hydrological Institute, "from record temperatures to heavy snow falls can be a pure coincidence."

Vasaloppet takes place on March 6.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, SMHI, Expressen, Aftonbladet, Vasaloppet

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