Freeze kills dozens in eastern Europe
Officials said almost 200 flights were cancelled due to the snow, and hundreds of people were stuck in private vehicles or public transport.
Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 02:39 PM
COLDER THAN ICE: The sun sets on the freezing Wisla river in the Polish capital Warsaw. Freezing weather has killed dozens of people in central and eastern Europe this week.(Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP)
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 Jan. 30.
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 hospitalization.
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 Jan. 28.
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 Jan. 30, 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 Jan. 30 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 in Romania, the health ministry said, raising the overall death toll to six.
In Serbia's Valjevo region, 80 kilometers (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.
Heavy snowfalls, that seriously disrupted road traffic and power supplies, ceased on Jan. 30 but the country was still in the grip of a fierce cold snap as temperatures fell to minus 20C overnight in central Serbia.
In neighboring 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 Jan. 30, 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 Jan. 31, 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.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition