Brutal Cold Snap Leaves 36 Dead in Eastern Europe
More than 60 dead in East European cold snap
Planetark.org, Feb. 1, 2012
More than 60 people have died in a cold snap across Eastern Europe, authorities said on Tuesday, forcing some countries to call in the army to help secure food and medical supplies and set up emergency shelters for the homeless.
The temperature in Ukraine sank to minus 33 degrees Celsius (minus 27 Fahrenheit), the coldest in six years, while eastern Bosnia experienced lows of minus 31C and Poland, Romania and Bulgaria minus 30C.
Forecasters said the cold spell would last until Friday with further heavy snow expected across the region on Wednesday.
At least 30 people, most of them homeless, have died in Ukraine in the past five days, the Emergencies Ministry said. Another 500 people were treated in hospital for frostbite and other cold-related ailments.
January temperatures in Ukraine do not normally sink below minus 15C. The ministry said 1,600 centers had been set up to provide shelter and hand out food for the homeless.
Five people died in Bulgaria and 8 in Romania, where troops were called in last week to rescue hundreds of people stranded in cars by blizzards. The Black Sea was frozen around the Romanian resort of Mamaia, and across the border in Bulgaria a salt lake froze for the first time in 58 years.
Five people were reported dead in Poland overnight, bringing to 15 the number to have died since temperatures dropped at the weekend. Several suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from old or faulty heaters, the Interior Affairs Ministry said.
At least three people have died in heavy snow in Serbia's mountain regions to the south and southeast. Authorities declared a state of emergency in 13 municipalities and deployed the army and firefighters to get supplies to remote villages.
"The situation is gradually being restored to normal," said Predrag Maric, head of the Interior Ministry's emergency situations department.
Dozens of villages were cut off by two meters (6.5 feet) of snow in eastern Bosnia, where the frozen body of a man was found at the weekend.
Winter cold snap kills 36 in eastern Europe
The Associated Press, Jan. 30, 2012
BELGRADE, Serbia — A severe and snowy cold snap across central and eastern Europe has left at least 36 people dead, cut off power to towns, and snarled traffic. Officials are responding with measures ranging from opening shelters to dispensing hot tea, with particular concern for the homeless and elderly.
This part of Europe is not unused to cold, but the current freeze, which spread to most of the region last week, came after a period of relatively mild weather. Many were shocked when temperatures in some parts plunged Monday to minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit).
"Just as we thought we could get away with a spring-like winter ..." lamented Jelena Savic, 43, from the Serbian capital of Belgrade, her head wrapped in a shawl with only eyes uncovered. "I'm freezing. It's hard to get used to it so suddenly."
Officials have appealed to people to stay indoors and be careful. Police searched for the homeless to make sure they didn't freeze to death. In some places, heaters will be set up at bus stations.
Still, 18 people, most of them homeless, died in Ukraine from hypothermia and nearly 500 people sought medical help for frostbite and hypothermia in just three days last week, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.
Temperatures in parts of Ukraine fell to minus 16 C (3 F) during the day and minus 23 C (minus 10 F) in the night. Authorities opened 1,500 shelters to provide food and heat and closed schools and nurseries. More than 17,000 people have sought help in such shelters in the past three days, authorities said.
In Poland, at least 10 people froze to death as the cold reached minus 26 C (minus 15 F) on Monday.
Malgorzata Wozniak, a spokeswoman for Poland's Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press that elderly people and the homeless were among the dead. Police were checking unheated empty buildings for homeless people they could take to shelters.
Warsaw city authorities decided to place more than 40 heaters in the busiest city transport stops to help waiting passengers keep warm.
City authorities in the Czech capital of Prague set up tents for an estimated 3,000 homeless people. Freezing temperatures also damaged train tracks, slowing railway traffic.
In central Serbia, three people died and two more were missing, while 14 municipalities were operating under emergency decrees. Efforts to clear roads blocked by 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, one in the snow outside his home. Further south, emergency crews are searching for two men in their 70s who are feared dead.
"We are getting some 'real' winter this week," Croatian meteorologist Zoran Vakula said.
In Bulgaria, a 57-year-old man froze to death in a northwestern village and emergency decrees were declared in 25 of the country's 28 districts. In the capital of Sofia, authorities handed out hot tea and placed homeless people in emergency shelters.
Strong winds also closed down Bulgaria's main Black Sea port of Varna, while part of a major highway leading to Bulgaria and Greece from Turkey was closed after a heavy snowfall. Nearly 200 Turkish Airlines flights to and from Istanbul's Ataturk Airport were canceled, and a city sports hall was turned to a temporary shelter for some 350 homeless people.
The temperature in Turkey's province of Kars, which borders Armenia, dropped to minus 25 C on Sunday night.
The situation was similar in Romania, where reports said four people have died because of freezing weather. There, authorities sent prison inmates to shovel snow and unblock paths leading to a shelter with some 300 stray dogs and puppies.
Weather forecasts say the cold snap will continue through the week.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.