Postojna, Slovenia - Cars stand entombed in a crystal-like casing near the deserted railway station in Postojna. Trees and electricity pylons lie felled in the snow by the sheer weight of ice enveloping them.
The damage wrought in western Slovenia by a freak ice storm and blizzards could take weeks or months to repair in a tiny EU member-state already going through its worst economic crisis in two decades as an independent state.
In Postojna, the administrative centre of Notranjska region, hardest hit by the cold snap, life has ground to a halt.
“In the 35 years I've worked here, I've never seen anything like this. I can't speak of numbers, but the damage will be huge. It will take another two months before trains can run again.”
Over three days, a temperature quirk in the region squeezed between the Alps and the Adriatic sea saw rain rather than snow fall and rapidly turn to ice, coating parked cars, petrol stations, street signs and houses. Bank ATM machines were frozen and telephone and electricity lines dragged down.
Some 50,000 homes in the country of 2 million people have been cut off from power and authorities say roughly half of Slovenia's forests, 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres), has been damaged. Snow is forecast.
In Postojna, a 30-metre Y-shaped pylon had been felled by the weight of ice, testimony to the scale of the disaster.
First official estimates of the extent of the damage are expected at a government session on Thursday, but the recovery will certainly take weeks or months. Slovenia's pristine nature is a big draw for tourists.
“At first they said we'd be here three days. Now they told us two weeks, maybe even longer,” said Mateusz Frym, part of a team of Austian emergency workers who came with 26 generators to help in the effort.
Photos by Blaz Sajovic
Freak ice storm Postojna February 2014: http://t.co/pMwT2NCWRI via @YouTube
Ice Age Postojna, February 2014 Photos