Bitter Cold Grips Europe, 40 Dead in Baltics
Planetark.org, Jan. 24, 2006
RIGA - about 40 people have died in the three Baltic states in a wave of bitter cold gripping northern and eastern Europe, as one capital city shivered in its lowest temperature for half a century.
Emergency services said 20 people died in Latvia and at least five in Estonia, while Lithuanian state radio reported 14 deaths as a result of the freeze.
Temperatures in the Baltics plunged to between minus 20 and minus 30 Celsius (minus 4 and minus 22 Fahrenheit) late last week and the region remained in the grip of the big freeze-up over the weekend.
Officials in Romania and the Czech Republic reported nine deaths in the past two days as the cold wave shut Black Sea ports and disrupted transport and energy supplies in parts of Eastern Europe.
Winter weather also hit several parts of Turkey, cutting off nearly 4,000 villages.
The three Baltic states - which joined the European Union and NATO in 2004 - are among the EU's fastest-growing economies. However, they remain among Europe's poorest countries and many of the dead were homeless.
In the Latvian capital Riga, temperatures sank to minus 29C (minus 20F) on Friday, the lowest recorded since 1956, and the Baltic news agency BNS said 10 people froze to death in the capital during the weekend.
Latvia's lowest temperature was minus 33C (minus 27F) recorded in the northeast of the country.
On Monday, the mercury rose in the region, to about minus 12C (10F) in Tallinn, minus 15C (5F) in Vilnius and minus 20C (4F) in Riga.