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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Drivers Trapped on Mountain Highway

NAZRAN, Russia - Avalanches on the steep slopes of the Caucasus Mountains between Russia and Georgia have blocked a highway for two days, trapping several hundred travelers in cars and trucks, an official said.

Drivers and passengers in about 30 vehicles were trapped inside a four- kilometer tunnel, before rescuers reached them late Thursday, said an official with Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations on condition of anonymity.

Rescuers pulled the people out of the tunnel but were forced to leave the cars behind.

Russian rescue teams were working in the area, although the tunnel was on Georgian territory in the province of South Ossetia, a separatist region with close ties to Russia.

In all, about 500 people in 150 vehicles had been trapped by seven avalanches in mountain passes. By late Thursday, about 200 people remained in their cars on the road, but were not in danger, the official said.

There were no reports of any deaths or injuries, and those inside the tunnel were never in danger of suffocation, he said. Rescue work in the area was hampered by high winds and the threat of more avalanches.

The Caucasus Highway winds along cliffs and cuts through lengthy tunnels in the mountains, and is considered one of the most hazardous roads in the former Soviet Union. Despite the danger, the route is frequently used by truckers hauling fruit and other goods from Georgia into Russia.