By Fatmir Aliu
Kosovo is mourning the deaths of nine family members who were killed when an avalanche destroyed several houses on Saturday in the village of Restelica, in the southern part of the country.
A five year old girl was the only one who survived from the Reka family, after rescue teams pulled her alive from the rubbles of the house, buried under ten metres of snow, on Sunday.
In the search and rescue operation, Kosovo Security Forces found the little Asmira Reka, in the arms of her deceased mother, police said.
One person is still missing from the avalanche that hit the village on Saturday night, swallowing some 18 houses.
Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga visited on Sunday the girl, whose parents, two uncles and their wives, and three children died in tragedy in the mountainous village of Restelica, near the border with Albania and Macedonia.
Doctors at the hospital in Prizren, where the girl was taken for recovery, said she has suffered from the cold, but she has no serious injuries.
More than 200 KSF, police, fire-fighters and local villagers worked for two days to get to the bottom of the houses in search for any survivor, and the last victim.
As the road was closed for any sort of vehicles, rescuers used shovels and other means to pull out the snow in search of the remaining one. Authorities in the region of Dragash, fear new avalanches could hit the region, as the snowstorm has not stopped yet.
Some 200 students that have been cut off for days in the ski resort of Brezovica with impassable roads from repeated avalanches, traveled on foot some five kilometres down to Strpce.
Kosovo has been hit by a wave of heavy snowfall and fierce blizzards in the mountains over the last two weeks, with temperatures dropping as low as 10 below zero in towns and as low as minus 18 in some villages.
Last Wednesday a family of three died from a gas heating system that burned down their house, in central Kosovo. Two children, aged 13 and 14, were saved from the fire.
A number of municipalities in Kosovo have declared a state of emergency, while dozens of villages have been entirely cut from electricity and water supply, due to heavy snowfall.
The government has deployed hundreds of Kosovo Security Forces officers to aid the population living in the villages of Peja, Kacanik, Ferizaj, Prizren and Podujevo sending them food and other supplies.