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Europe: Avalanches Trap 300 As Severe Cold Continues

Prague, 31 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Rescue teams are still trying to free about 300 people trapped by avalanches in a tunnel in the Caucasus mountains.

Officials said yesterday it would take at least until tomorrow to free the people trapped since Thursday in the tunnel which links Russia's North Ossetia region with the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia.

Itar-tass news agency said two women had given birth while being trapped. One newborn child had died of cold.

Meanwhile, icy weather has continued to cause traffic chaos and has claimed dozens of lives across Europe. Most of the victims have been the homeless or the elderly.

Parts of Canada and the United States have been hit by heavy snow storms.

Rain and rising temperatures brought fears of flooding in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.