Storm knocks out power for more than 500,000 people in Ukraine, Crimea and Russia

More than half a million people have been left without power in Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after a storm in the Black Sea area flooded roads, ripped up trees and took down power lines, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Moscow region experienced its heaviest snowfall in 40 years. The storms and snowfall were part of a weather front that left one person dead and many places without electricity amid heavy snow and blizzards in Romania and Moldova on Sunday.

The head of Russia’s national meteorological service said the storm that hit Crimea was the most powerful since record-keeping began.

The storm also hit southern Russia and sent waves flooding into the beach resort of Sochi, blew the roof off a five-storey building in Anapa and damaged homes and schools in Kuban, the state news agency said. It also caused a cargo ship to run aground near Anapa.

Local Russia-installed officials said one person died in Crimea after going out to look at the waves in a village near the town of Sudak in the southern part of the peninsula, while other people were taken to hospital or evacuated from their homes.

The government in Crimea told people to stay at home yesterday and closed government facilities including schools and hospitals as strong winds were expected to continue.

The storm prompted several Crimean regions to declare a state of emergency, Tatyana Lyubetskaya, a Russia-installed official at the Crimean environmental monitoring department, told Tass news agency. Roman Vilfand, the head of Russia’s national meteorological service, told RIA Novosti that a similar storm hit the region in November 1854 during the Crimean War. It caused at least 30 ships to sink off Crimea’s coast, RIA Novosti said.

Crimea was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014 and is a key military and logistics hub for Russia as it pursues its war in Ukraine.

It is unclear whether the storm damaged any Russian military equipment or defences.

It was reported that everyone in the Chernomorske area of western Crimea lost water supply as well as central heating because pumping stations had lost power. There were also reports of a problem with a gas pipeline in Saky in western Crimea.

Ukraine’s ministry of energy said more than 2,000 towns and villages were without electricity in 16 Ukrainian regions, including Kyiv, Odesa and Mykolaiv. It said it expected the weather to worsen, with forecasters predicting more strong winds and snowfall.

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