Winter cold snap kills 36 in eastern Europe

As temperatures dropped to over minus 20 Celsius, authorities opened hundreds of emergency shelters across the region.

Belgrade: Heavy snow and a severe cold snap
have killed at least 36 people across eastern Europe and many
areas were under emergency measures on Monday as schools closed
down, roads became impassible and power supplies were cut off.

As temperatures dropped to around minus 20 Celsius,
authorities opened hundreds of emergency shelters across the
region and urged people to be careful and stay indoors. Police
went searching for homeless people to make sure they didn`t
freeze to death.

Ukraine`s Emergency Situations Ministry said 18 people
died of hypothermia and nearly 500 people sought medical help
for frostbites and hypothermia in just three days last week.

Twelve of the dead were homeless people whose bodies were
discovered on the streets.

Temperatures in parts of Ukraine plunged to minus 16 C
during the day and minus 23 C during the night. Authorities
opened 1,500 shelters to provide food and heat and shut down
schools and nurseries.

At least 10 people froze to death in Poland as the cold
reached minus 26 C today.

Malgorzata Wozniak, a spokeswoman for Poland`s Interior
Ministry, told The Associated Press that elderly people and
the homeless were among the dead and police were checking
unheated empty buildings to corral the homeless into shelters.

Until now, Poland had been having a mild winter with
little snow and temperatures just below freezing.

In central Serbia, three people died and two more were
missing and 14 municipalities were operating under emergency
decrees. Efforts to clear roads of snow were hampered by
strong winds and dozens of towns faced power outages.

Police said one woman froze to death in a snowstorm in a
central Serbian village, while two elderly men were found
dead, one in the snow outside his home. Further south,
emergency crews are searching for two men in their 70s who are
feared dead.

In Romania, local media reported four people had died due
to the frigid weather. Hungry dogs and puppies near the
Romanian capital of Bucharest got a helping hand after a dozen
prison inmates shoveled snow today to unblock paths to a stray
dog shelter housing 300 dogs.

The strays had been frozen in after snowstorms and icy
weather swept Romania. Bucharest is home to some 50,000 stray

In neighbouring Bulgaria, a 57-year-old man froze to death
in a northwestern village and emergency decrees were declared
in 25 of the country`s 28 districts. In the capital of Sofia,
authorities handed out hot tea and placed homeless people in
emergency shelters.