European freeze death toll rises


Thirty-eight more deaths from a cold snap have been registered in Ukraine in the past 24 hours, bringing to 101 the toll from freezing temperatures across the former Soviet republic, the emergencies ministry said.

Ukraine is experiencing the coldest winter in six years, with overnight temperatures sinking as low as minus 33 degrees.

The ministry said that of the 101 people who have died over the past seven days, 64 were found dead on the streets, 26 in their homes and 11 died while receiving medical care.Most of the victims were homeless people who live rough most of the year, according to the ministry.

Hundreds of others have been treated in hospital for frostbite, hypothermia and other
cold-related ailments.

About 3,000 heated tents have been set up around the country to provide makeshift accommodation and dispense food and drinks to homeless people.

In the last week, 29 Poles and 22 Romanians have died due to sudden blizzards and a sharp drop in temperature after a mild start to the winter.

Several people have also died in Bulgaria, where many towns suffered record-low temperatures and bank machines froze up in the capital, Sofia.

In Serbia, emergency services were trying to get supplies to more than 11,000 people whose mountain villages were snowed in. Helicopters have been used both in Serbia and neighbouring Bosnia to deliver provisions to remote areas, amid warnings of worse weather to come.

The cold has been blamed for the death of seven people in Serbia. Most nearby countries have also reported weather-related fatalities in recent days.

In Georgia, about 60,000 households were without heat and light yesterday after high winds tore roofs off buildings and brought down power lines.

Transport has been severely affected across much of Europe, with airports and Black Sea ports being temporarily closed, ice on the Danube threatening cargo traffic and road and rail networks in many countries being thrown into chaos by blizzards, ice and gales.

Even northern and central Italy have been affected, with hundreds of people having to remain overnight on trains that were stuck in snow.

Additional reporting: Reuters