NEWSLINK: Snow traps drivers for days in giant Russia traffic jam

Map of Russia

(Snow traps drivers for days in giant Russia traffic jam – Reuters – Dec. 2, 2012 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/03/uk-russia-traffic-idUSLNE8B201620121203)

Reuters reports on a two-days-and-counting, 120-mile-long traffic jam on a major Russian highway resulting from heavy snow and involving thousands of vehicles:

Thousands of trucks and cars have been stuck on a major highway, some for more than two days, in a traffic jam dozens of kilometres (miles) long caused by heavy snow northwest of Moscow, Russian media reported on Sunday.

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Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dispatched Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov to Tver on Sunday for a meeting on the situation, and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was ordered to report to Medvedev on Monday on measures to end the jam and help stranded motorists, Medvedev’s spokeswoman said.

Reports put the length of the traffic jam at between 40 km and 200 km (120 miles) at different times on Sunday. One man told the state broadcaster he had advanced one kilometre over the previous 24 hours.

“The reach of the traffic jam at present is no longer than 55 km and is gradually falling,” Interfax news agency quoted a police official as saying on Sunday evening.

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The M-10 highway links Moscow with Russia’s second largest city St Petersburg, some 700 km northwest of the capital, and stretches on to the border with Finland.

Some are placing blame with the government, with the episode occurring at the same time that Russian President Vladimir Putin already has been shaking up at least a few government appointments:

Russian authorities have been accused of sluggish responses to weather-related problems including deadly wildfires in 2010 and flooding in the south this summer.

Officials are jumpy about their jobs after President Vladimir Putin’s dismissal of the regional development minister in October and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov last month.

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