Avalanche Hazard on Sakhalin And the Kurils

Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, Russia's Far East, remain in the grip of a powerful snow cyclone, reported the regional Civil Defence and Emergencies Office. The cyclone still holds sway over the northern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril range.

The Kholmsk-Vanino sea ferry, which connects Sakhalin and the continent, was suspended three days ago because of a storm in the Tatar Strait, where the waves reach 3.5 meters high.

In Sakhalin's Poronaisk district, which saw a monthly norm of precipitation in the past 24 hours, the blanket of snow is 120 centimeters thick. Classes were cancelled in all of the district's schools beginning Wednesday.

Snowfall brought by a cyclone from the Sea of Japan continues in Sakhalin's northernmost district of Okha. Coach service between many of the district's settlements was interrupted.

Heavy snowfall brought an avalanche hazard to an area which was hazardous enough as it was. Specialists from the local avalanche station warned the authorities that up to 200 avalanches may come down in the near future.

The hazardous area covers about a dozen settlements, as well as some sections of highways and railroads.

This winter, Sakhalin saw a record number of mountain avalanches /350/ come down on its territory. More than 250 avalanches came down in January alone. Snow flows have repeatedly blocked highways in valleys and in the mountains.

The authorities made a decision to provoke the coming down of avalanches near towns, villages and highways with the help of explosions.

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