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. Ice knocks out power in northern Portugal, strands seven hikers
LISBON (AFP) Jan 11, 2005
Snow and sleet have pelted northern Portugal, knocking out power to three villages, causing traffic accidents and stranding seven hikers on the nation's highest mountain range, reports said Tuesday.

Firefighters aided by a team of military police rescued the hikers in the early hours of Monday after they became trapped by ice and heavy winds on the Serra da Estrela mountain, which tops out at 1,193 metres (3,937 feet), daily newspaper Jornal de Noticias reported.

One of the seven hikers was treated in hospital for exhaustion and hypothermia, it said.

Meanwhile the weight of the ice caused power lines to snap to at least three villages in the northeastern province of Tras-os-Montes early Monday and was making the repair of the downed lines difficult, the paper added.

Police reported scores of traffic accidents in the region while road crews spread 80 tonnes of salt to break up the ice on roads in the northern district of Braganca alone.

Temperatures in the city of Braganca, located some 500 kilometresmiles) northeast of Lisbon, hovered around minus five degrees Celsiusdegrees Fahrenheit) on Monday morning.

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