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Cold snap paralyzes north western Tunisian town

(Xinhua)

11:00, February 08, 2012

TUNIS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- A cold snap coupled with heavy snowfalls have paralyzed the town of El Kef in north Western Tunisia, forcing the closure of schools and a number of public and private buildings and the road between Jendouba and El Kef.

With snow as high as one meter in some areas, snow clearing operations were proving both slow and difficult.

Government aid in the form of foodstuff and blankets have already reached inhabitants in the north and north western parts of the country.

With sub-zero temperatures hitting the small villages and hamlets, the shortage of liquid gas bottles for cooking and heating purposes has become acute in some parts of the country.

During the weekend, more than 200 people were stranded near the mountain town of Ain Draham in northern Tunisia, when the road they were travelling on was snowed up. On Monday, a relief operation was quickly organized to rescue them.

However the snowy weather, a rare enough sight in Tunisia, extended to the southern part of the country, covering the Berber troglodyte village of Matmata and Tataouine -- reputed for serving as the main cast for Steve Lucas' Star Wars series -- with a white coat of snow.

According to Tunisia's weather forecast agency, the latest snowfall in the region dates back to the 1960's. The agency also announced that the cold spell will gradually recede by Friday.

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