June 25, 2018
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9 die in Kosovo avalanche; child pulled out alive

By FLORENT BAJRAMI, the Associated Press

RESTELICA, Kosovo — Rescuers have pulled a 5-year-old girl alive from the rubble of a house flattened by a massive avalanche that killed both her parents and at least seven of her relatives in a remote mountain village in southern Kosovo.

Col. Shemsi Syla, a spokesman for the Kosovo Security Force, said Sunday officers discovered the girl when they heard her voice and cell phone. Her home was buried under 33 feet of snow.

Rescuers cheered and pumped their fists in the air late Saturday as the girl was pulled out alive. A video aired on Klan Kosova TV showed rescuers covering the girl with blankets, before she was rushed to hospital.

Osman Qerreti, an emergency official at the site, told The Associated Press that at least nine members of her family died when the avalanche in the village of Restelica near Kosovo’s border with Macedonia and Albania destroyed seven houses, of which only two were inhabited.

The cold snap in Europe, which began in late January, has killed hundreds of people, most of them homeless. Heavy snow has been blanketing the Balkans for more than two weeks, with Restelica and roads in the region blocked for several days.

In neighboring Montenegro, where the government introduced a state of emergency because of the deep freeze, special police forces on Sunday managed to reach about 50 train passengers stranded for two days after tracks were blocked by avalanches.

Police said a 55-year-old passenger had died from a heart attack Saturday night, while the others were sheltering in a nearby tunnel.

The airport in Podgorica remained closed Sunday and the streets were blocked by snow up to22 inches high — the highest since measurements started in the capital in 1949.

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