Warsaw: A cold snap kept Europe in its icy
grip on Thursday, pushing the death toll past 150 as countries from
Italy to Ukraine struggled to cope with temperatures that
reached record lows in some places.
Nine more people died in Poland overnight as temperatures
plunged to minus 32 Celsius (minus 25.6 Fahrenheit) in the
southwest, bringing the overall toll to 29 since the deep
freeze began last week, national police said.
In Ukraine, tens of thousands of people have headed to
shelters trying to escape the freeze that the emergencies
ministry said has now killed 63 people.
Most of them literally froze to death on the street, with
only a handful making it to hospital before succumbing to
hypothermia, the ministry said.
Shivering and hungry, tens of thousands of Ukrainians
have sought help in the more than 2,000 temporary shelters set
up by the authorities to help the poor survive the fearsome
spell of cold weather.
In Romania, eight people died overnight because of the
cold, bringing the overall toll to 22, the health ministry
said. Schools remained closed in some parts of the country as
temperatures reached minus 31 degrees Celsius.
In Bulgaria, where the mercury dipped to lows not seen in
a century, at least 10 people have died, according to media.
Authorities have not released official figures.
In Latvia, 10 people have died around the capital Riga
alone, with no figures available for the rest of the country.
In neighbouring Lithuania a 55-year-old homeless man
found in the ruins of an abandoned house in the port city of
Klaipeda became the ninth victim of the chill.
In Italy, hundreds of people were trapped overnight on
trains as freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls in the
centre and north caused widespread disruptions on roads,
railways and at airports.
The cold has so far killed an infant in Sicily and a
76-year-old pensioner in Parma during what forecasters say is
the coldest weather in Italy in 27 years.
In Austria, an 83-year-old woman was found frozen to
death in the woods after apparently slipping on her daily walk
and not managing to get up again, becoming the country`s
second victim of the cold snap, officials said.
In Serbia, the cold has killed six people and trapped
some 11,500 others, mostly in remote mountain villages
inaccessible by road.
In Belgrade, homeless people unable to secure one of the
140 spots in the capital`s sole shelter took refuge in trolley
buses and trams.
In France, where several regions have been placed under
"deep cold" watch, authorities banned trucks on several major
highways where the risk of snowfall and ice remained high.