Europe cold snap claims 36 lives

Europe cold snap claims 36 lives

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

A social employee gives out a hot meal and hot tea to an elderly man at one of the newly opened shelters in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Monday. AFP

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. Further south, emergency crews are searching for two men who are feared dead.

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