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Sicilian town gets pummelled with snow

Italian soldiers worked through the early hours of the morning today to clear the streets of the Sicilian town of Troina after days of heavy snowfall left it isolated.

Residents in the small town, sitting at about 1,200 meters above sea level, had struggled to clear the streets with shovels and spades over the last few days, their efforts hampered by freezing temperatures and continuing snowfall.

''From Epiphany (weekend) it has been snowing and we are all in distress. A truck has passed once to clear the snow from the main road but unfortunately it keeps snowing and we are all here, submerged with snow," said Benedetto Schinotta, an 80-year-old resident.

"I am forced to try and clear the snow from my doorway otherwise I cannot buy food or do anything. I have no one taking care of me,'' he said.

A company of Italian soldiers arrived in the town late yesterday and used bulldozers to remove snow from the streets.

The snow was then lifted onto trucks and transported to the outskirts of the town to clear the roads. Work continued in darkness and as snow continued to fall with the operation expected to continue for another two days.

Eight people have died in Italy in the last week, most of them homeless people, after below zero temperatures swept across the country, with the usually temperate south being particularly affected.

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