Serbia's energy minister has learned the hard way how helmets can save lives.

Aleksandar Antic was touring an eastern area of Serbia where cold weather has left people without electricity when his plastic protective helmet was hit by a large icicle that appeared to fall from a power grid.

The helmet fell from his head and appeared to crack while he addressed reporters. Nearby, rescue teams were trying to restore electricity that has been out in the area for several days.

A bit disoriented, Antic said: "As you could have seen now, this is the best possible way to illustrate under which conditions people are working here."

The area around the town of Majdanpek has been without heating, running water and telephone service.