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Freezing weather kills dozens in eastern Europe

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, January 30, 2012 16:44 EDT
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Freezing Wisla river in Warsaw via AFP
 
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WARSAW — Freezing weather has killed dozens of people in central and eastern Europe over the past few days and temperatures are set to drop even further, authorities warned Monday.

In Poland, police said 10 died over the weekend as temperatures plunged to minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 Fahrenheit), raising the death toll from exposure to 46 since the start of the winter, which had been unusually mild up till now.

Ukraine’s health ministry said 18 people have died of hypothermia in the last four days. Most of them were homeless who froze to death in the streets or old people who died in their flats or after hospitalisation.

Nearly 500 people sought medical help for frostbite and hypothermia in just three days last week, the emergency situations ministry said. Authorities have opened 1,500 shelters to provide food and heat, as temperatures plunged to 30 minus 30C (minus 22F) in some regions of the country.

Police also reported that at least three people died of exposure over the weekend in the Baltic state of Lithuania. A 91-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man were among the victims.

In the Czech Republic, a 26-year-old man was found frozen to death in a field near the eastern town of Opava on Saturday.

Forecasters have warned temperatures are likely to plunge to minus 30C in the country this week, after hitting minus 20C (minus 4F) in some places Sunday.

In Slovakia a 63-year-old man was found dead outside his house in the northern village of Sunava on Monday, the SITA agency reported, saying temperatures in the region had dropped to minus 24C (minus 11.2F).

In Bulgaria, five died in snow storms last week, local media reported Monday as a Siberian cold front hit the Balkan country with temperatures also dropping to minus 24C at Chirpan in the south.

Most were elderly people who lost their way and were left stranded out in the cold.

The national weather service forecast that the mercury would drop even further in the next few days.

Four more people died over the past 24 hours in Romania, the health ministry said, raising the overall death toll to six.

In Serbia’s Valjevo region, 80 kilometres (50 miles) south-west of Belgrade, a 49-year-old woman was found dead by workers clearing snow on a road and a 52-year-old man never made it to his home in the village of Bobovo after dining with a neighbour.

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her own home in the village of Taor, Serbia’s Tanjug news agency said Monday.

Heavy snowfalls, that seriously disrupted road traffic and power supplies, ceased on Monday but the country was still in the grip of a fierce cold snap as temperatures fell to minus 20C overnight in central Serbia.

In neighbouring Macedonia, a 63-year-old man died of cold in the southwest of the country, where the temperatures fell to minus 22C (-7.6F) at the weekend, police said.

Heavy snowfall blanketed Turkey’s commercial hub Istanbul, a city of 15 million, on Monday, paralysing daily life and disrupting air and land transport.

Officials said almost 200 flights were cancelled due to the snow expected to continue until late Tuesday, while hundreds of people were stuck in private vehicles or public transport.

Turkey is facing a severe winter and temperatures in the capital Ankara are expected to fall as low as minus 15C (plus 5F) in the next couple of days.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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