Snow cyclone on Sakhalin: death toll reaches 7

The number of lives claimed by the powerful snow cyclone that struck Sakhalin has reached 7, reported the Far Eastern Regional Center of the emergencies ministry.

Thirty-nine people were saved in the course of an operation to liquidate the consequences of the cyclone, which had cut off the island from the rest of the world for three days.

Raging cyclone and accompanying squall buried hundreds of cars under snow. Fearing robbers, many of the drivers had remained in their cars: that is why many of the rescue teams are engaged in an effort to dig up the transport vehicles.

The main airport of the island, the one that is situated in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, has been functioning since yesterday. Four sea ferries, too, have resumed their runs between Sakhalin and the continent.

Regional authorities have declared a state of emergency in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and four of the island's districts - Nevelsk, Kholmsk, Dolinsk and Makarov.

In the meantime, thousands of kilometers of arterial roads are still waiting to be cleared of snow. Eleven snow avalanches were registered in the mountains of the Nevelsk district alone. Many road sections are buried under a two-meter-thick coat of snow.