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Record early onset of severe winter weather in Austria

Vienna - The coldest winter in large parts of Austria has struck unexpectedly early, with meteorologists talking Sunday of weather conditions that occur in the Alpine republic once every 30 to 50 years. About 150 centimetres of fresh snow fell in the Alps within 48 hours.
A storm brought on by a low pressure system moved across Upper Austria on Sunday afternoon, leaving houses and roads covered or blocked by fallen trees. The winter weather is expected to last for the rest of the week. Austria's avalanche warning system raised the alarm to the second- highest grade. A man reportedly became trapped in an avalanche in Gargellen in Vorarlberg on Sunday but was freed by a companion. Access to resorts was restored Sunday afternoon after avalanche authorities blasted dangerous snow masses. The previous time that Lech was cut off so early in the winter was 1974. Winds reached 140 kilometres per hour in parts. Hurricane-style storms caused serious damage in Upper Austria.

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Death toll rises in oil disaster

Image: One of several ships that were in distress near Russia that spilled fuel into a crucial waterway.

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian and Ukrainian authorities launched a rescue and cleanup operation in the Black Sea on Monday after fatal storms sank five ships, including an oil tanker and three ships carrying sulphur, and left at least two sailors dead and 20 sailors missing, officials and news agencies said.

The oil tanker split in half and spilled more than 1,000 tons of fuel oil, and environmentalists expressed concern that the effects of the spill would last for years.

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

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