Slovakia's police say 24 people were injured in a 40-car pileup during a heavy snowstorm in the northeastern part of the country.

Rescuers spokesman Boris Chmel says the crashes occurred at about 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) Thursday near the city of Poprad. The damaged cars completely blocked the major traffic route connecting the capital Bratislava with the eastern part of the country.

Authorities say they have evacuated people from the crashed cars.

Some parts of Central Europe, including Slovakia and neighboring Czech Republic ,have been hit by an unusual cold snap for this part of the year, with freezing temperatures and snow disrupting traffic. Up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) of snow has been reported in some areas since Wednesday morning.