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Snowdrifts, Strong Winds Cut Off Kazakh Capital

Heavy winter storms across Kazakhstan have cut transportation links to and from the capital, Astana, and left other regions of the Central Asian country isolated.

Astana Mayor Aset Isekeshev on January 11 declared a state of emergency after strong winds and snowdrifts forced the closure of Nursultan Nazarbaev International Airport in Astana.

The snowstorms that began overnight also forced the closure of all highways and roads linking the capital to other parts of the country.

Interior Minister Qalmukhanbet Qasymov said all roads in the regions of Aqmola, Qaraghandy, Pavlodar, and Qyzyl-Orda were closed on January 11.

In the country’s largest city, Almaty, authorities on January 11 urged residents to use public transportation instead of driving vehicles on the roads because of limited visibility in the ongoing blizzard.

Schools also were closed on January 11 in Astana and many of Kazakhstan's provincial regions.