Record snowfall wreaks havoc as freezing conditions move west
EUROPE:AFTER MORE than 200 people were killed in Arctic temperatures in eastern Europe, the pattern of snowfall moved west, dumping two metres of snow in parts of Bosnia.
The authorities yesterday used helicopters to evacuate sick people and deliver food to thousands cut off by the country’s highest snowfall on record. More than 100 remote Bosnian villages were cut off by the snowfall.
A state of emergency has been declared in the capital Sarajevo, which has been under more than a metre of snow since Friday, with schools closed, trams stuck in snowdrifts and people trapped in cars. With roads closed and no public transport in much of Sarajevo, some neighbourhoods reported water shortages as residents struggled to reach the shops to buy food.
In neighbouring Serbia, about 70,000 people remained cut off from services. Rare snowfall on Croatia’s Adriatic coast left three people dead. The army was called in to help clear snow.
Ukraine has the highest death toll, with more than 120 people freezing to death, most of them at the end of last week, in temperatures that plunged to minus 30 degrees at night. Most died from hyperthermia or frostbite in the street. Bodies continued to be found, some buried in snow in remote parts of the country.
In Poland, the worst affected were the homeless. In Bulgaria, the poorest country in the EU, 16 people have died. Most were from remote villages and were found dead at the side of the road or in unheated houses.
Deaths were also reported in France. Two elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease died after leaving home in the poor weather.
One, an 82-year-old man from Moselle in northeastern France, had left home wearing only his pyjamas. He was found dead just over half a mile from his home in temperatures that fell to minus 14.
France was bracing itself for a two-year high in electricity consumption as temperatures plunged to minus 20 in Reims and Mulhouse. The government has warned French consumers to be cautious about energy use.
Meanwhile, Rome was paralysed by its heaviest snowfall in 27 years, which left buses struggling to navigate the icy roads and people stranded in cars for hours.
The city’s mayor was criticised over a lack of snow ploughs and salters. About 4,000 government-issued shovels were handed out in several main piazzas to Romans trying to clear their streets before a freeze forecast for last night.
There were a handful of deaths in Italy due to the weather conditions, including a man in southern Naples found dead in his snow-covered car at the side of the road.
Snow also fell on Spain’s Balearic islands in the Mediterranean, as well as Sardinia and Corsica. The Algerian capital, Algiers, saw a freak snowfall of at least 10cm, the first in eight years.
Even Greece was not spared the vicissitudes of the continental weather system. An 80-year-old woman drowned and dozens more were trapped in flooded houses in the western city of Pyrgos after almost 15cm of rain fell overnight, the Associated Press reported. – ( Guardianservice)