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24 hurt in pile-up during Slovakian snowstorm

Twenty-four people have been injured in a 40-car pile-up during a heavy snowstorm in Slovakia.

Rescue spokesman Boris Chmel said the incident occurred at about 6am local time, near the city of Poprad.

The damaged cars completely blocked the major traffic route connecting the capital Bratislava with the eastern part of the country.

Some parts of central Europe, including Slovakia and neighbouring Czech Republic, have been hit by an unusual April cold snap, with freezing temperatures and snow disrupting traffic.

Up to 50cm of snow has been reported in some areas since Wednesday morning.

But in Portugal, high temperatures and low rainfall have prompted fears of an early outbreak of forest fires.

The National Civil Protection Authority said temperatures will reach 30C in some areas, accompanied by a gusting wind, and the fire risk will be "very high" in central and northern regions through Saturday.

The agency has banned outdoor cooking, fireworks and the burning of crop residue.

The peak fire season traditionally begins on July 1. Portugal will have 9,700 firefighters, more than 2,000 vehicles and 48 water-dumping aircraft on standby from that date.


From Belfast Telegraph