Conflicts & War

Snowfalls aggravate situation as Ukranians struggle with power cuts

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Dec 12 (EFE).- Heavy snowfalls over the last week are hampering the situation in western Ukraine — where emergency power outages continue — and are forecast to spread to the center of the country.

Meanwhile, thousands of people remain without electricity and water in the southern city of Odesa.

Almost 200 towns and villages in the western region of Lviv remained without electricity for the second consecutive day due to emergency power cuts triggered by Russia’s continuing shelling of Ukrainian infrastructure.

And the work of brigades to restore the damaged electricity grid is also hindered by some of the roads being hardly passable because of incessant snowfall since Sunday night.

The snowfalls come after a relatively mild beginning of December, in which temperatures have rarely fallen below 0 C (32 F).

With residents having some electricity during the day and a stable gas supply for heating and cooking in most homes, the demand for heating stations in Lviv has so far been relatively low.

The city council said Monday that roughly 3,000 of the city’s 800,000 inhabitants have visited its 21 emergency heating points in the last two weeks, mainly to charge their electronic devices or to access the Internet.

If the situation worsens, new so-called “points of invincibility” are expected to be set up at about 200 schools and other municipal buildings, meaning the total number of city-run heating stations could climb to around 1,000.

So far, many restaurants and other private businesses, such as the Nova Poshta mail service, have served as improvised heating stations, after purchasing fuel power generators to ensure electricity, heating and Internet access.

The snowfalls are expected to continue on Monday in the central regions, move to the east on Tuesday, and then be followed by several days with freezing temperatures, amid fears that the weather could deepen the plight of Ukrainians who have to spend hours without electricity every day.

Apart from the western regions of Lviv, Zakarpattia, Chernivtsi, and Ternopil, the situation of emergency blackouts remains most complicated in Kyiv, Dnipro, Sumy and Vinnytsia, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In Odesa, the aftermath of the Russian drone attack against its infrastructure over the weekend is still being keenly felt.

The attack initially left all the region’s residents without electricity, with only places of critical importance, such as hospitals and police, receiving at least some of the supply.

With water pumps out of service, water supply has also been limited throughout the city, forcing residents to queue at public water sources still in operation.

Roman, a resident of Odesa, told Efe that his newly built high-rise residential block only has electricity for short spells and that periods with no electricity sometimes last for 18 hours.

To charge their phones or wash clothes, he and his wife Dasha often visit their more fortunate friends who live in buildings near city hospitals and thus still have electricity for most of the day.

Sergiy Bratchuk, from the local regional administration, said two or three months will be needed to restore the system’s normal operation, but he said everything was being done to ensure all residents have power at least partially restored within the next few days.

Bratchuk also said that no mass evacuation from Odesa was necessary or being encouraged by the authorities.

The weather conditions might make it more difficult for Russia to operate its Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 kamikaze drones, Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said Sunday.

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