The Russian government on Monday admitted that road services should be better prepared after a 190 kilometre (118 mile) horror traffic jam involving more than 4,000 trucks paralysed circulation on a key highway over the weekend.
Officials said that traffic on the M-10 motorway north of Moscow had been moving normally again since the early hours of Monday but acknowledged more needed to be done to prevent a repeat of the problems.
“I ask that conclusions are made and the highway is properly prepared as winter has only just started. What happened is a good lesson for all the services,” Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said at a government meeting.
“They need to work on the roads and not in their warm offices,” he warned.
Thousands of drivers waited for hours without moving in their lorry cabs Sunday in temperatures of minus five degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit).
Officials claimed that they had been given enough provisions but Puchkov admitted this had not always been the case.
“We had problems from the point of view of the highway services and ensuring that drivers had food, water and medication,” he said.
Puchkov added: “Systems of keeping the drivers informed were not ready.”
The traffic jam was caused by a heavy snowfall –- unusually severe for early winter –- late on Friday and was further complicated when the authorities manoeuvred a snow plough through the vehicles to clear the road.
According to the interior ministry, the traffic jam extended to 190 kilometres and involved more than 4,000 trucks.
Traffic police said Monday that average speeds had now returned to the normal 80 kilometres (49 miles) an hour after the vehicles started moving at 2:30 am (1030 GMT Sunday).
The M-10 motorway –- known as the “Russia” highway –- connects Moscow and Saint Petersburg and is one of the busiest in the country. It goes through the Tver region 160 kilometres (99 miles) north of Moscow where the traffic jam was at its worst.