Parts of central Europe have been devastated by blizzards and freezing rain. A quarter of homes in Slovenia have been left without electricity after heavy snow and ice caused the collapse of power lines.

The Slovenian government said that more than 40 per cent of the country's Alpine forests have been damaged. Defence Minister Roman Jakis said during an emergency government meeting that the country has been hit by "a large-scale natural disaster."

Serbian government minister Aleksandar Antic said that more than 5,000 people have been evacuated in the past few days. Authorities used a military helicopter, tanks and armoured vehicles to reach stranded people.

In the southern Austrian province of Carinthia, bordering Slovenia, up to 3,000 homes were without electricity. Two rail routes connecting Austria with Italy were closed.

In southeastern Poland, some 20 villages were cut off by snow drifts.

road sign
A man walks past ice-covered road signs in Postojna, SloveniaReuters
trees
People walk past trees covered with ice in PostojnaReuters
ice cars
Parked cars are encased in ice in PostojnaReuters
ice car
A man shovels snow next to an ice-covered car in PostojnaReuters
power cables
Icicles hang from power lines in PostojnaReuters
ice balcony
An ice-covered balcony is pictured in PostojnaReuters
parked cars
In Postojna all cars are whiteReuters
sled
A woman and a child drag a sledge past a fallen electricity poleReuters
ice tree
A worker cuts the top of a ice-covered tree in PostojnaReuters
slovenia statue
Ice covers a World War II monument in Pivka, SloveniaReuters
snoman
A snowman encased in thick ice is seen in Prestranek, SloveniaReuters
steam train
An ice-covered steam locomotive is seen in Postojna railway stationReuters
rail power lines
Ice-covered, downed, power lines are seen in Postojna railway stationReuters
ice trees
Two men walk past ice covered trees in PostojnaReuters
roof
A man standing on an ice-covered balcony in Pivka, Slovenia looks around his ice-covered neighbourhoodReuters
soldiers
Members of the Slovenian army remove ice-covered fallen trees in PivkaReuters
icicles
A man removes icicles from his roof in Prestranek, SloveniaReuters
forest
A power company worker repairs lines in ice-covered woods in Pivka, SloveniaReuters
man wheelbarrow
An elderly man loads firewood in a wheelbarrow in Prestranek, SloveniaReuters