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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 17:11 GMT
Blizzards paralyse Algerian city
Children in the snow
Some Algerians are enjoying the snow
The worst snowfalls in more than 50 years have paralysed Algeria's capital, Algiers, and more than a third of the country, the authorities say.

The bad weather is reported to have caused at least 10 deaths and hundreds of motorists have had to be rescued from their stranded vehicles.

Towns and villages have been cut off, while many sporting events have been postponed until next week.

Weather forecasters say the conditions will persist for several days.

Neighbouring Tunisia has also been affected.

Snow is wonderful. I am 24 and I had never seen it
Algiers traffic policeman
The Algerian authorities said people should not venture out unless necessary.

The BBC's Mohammed Arezki Himeur in Algiers says that Liberty Park, where young lovers usually meet, was deserted.

Even the birds which normally sing for the courting couples did not brave the cold.

Gas riots

Several areas in the north-east, including the Mediterranean port oil city of Skikda, were cut off after 36 hours of snow and strong winds.

People walk past melting snow
Algerians have been warned not to go outside unless necessary
Our correspondent says that the snow has cut off roads and electricity supplies in mountainous regions.

Most of the 10 fatalities have been caused by traffic accidents.

The cold snap has also increased opposition to recent gas price hikes, which has seen several riots, correspondents say.

Riots have been reported in four Algerian towns after the price of butane gas, a vital fuel for cooking and heating homes, was raised to 200 dinars ($2.77) per canister from 170 dinars.

Now there is a shortage of gas in some areas, while the price of bread has doubled in places.

But the blizzards have not upset everyone.

"Snow is wonderful. I am 24 and I had never seen it," said an Algiers traffic policeman, according to Reuters news agency.

Country profile: Algeria
26 Nov 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Algeria
04 Jan 05 |  Country profiles


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