Europeans struggle under record cold snap
Monday, February 6, 2012
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Overwhelmed by deep snow and harsh temperatures, some countries in Europe closed down schools and struggled to run public transport Monday, as post-snow rains caused a dam to collapse in Bulgaria, flooding a village and killing at least four.
Another four people were killed by floods in southern Bulgaria, and 10 people are missing, authorities said.
Europeans across the continent were digging out from heavy snow after a week of bitter cold in which the number of dead — most of them homeless — continued to rise by the day. Temperatures have fallen as low as minus 33 Fahrenheit in Ukraine, the hardest-hit country.
The big freeze has caused traffic chaos throughout Europe, blocking roads, shutting down airports, and trapping thousands in remote mountain villages in the Balkans.
The Serbian government late on Sunday declared an emergency situation, saying the intense snowfall has jeopardized normal functioning. Emergency officials said that 70,000 people were cut off by the heavy snow.
“I hope the emergency measures will lead to better functioning of the rescue efforts,” said emergency official Goran Nikolic.
They included shutting down all primary schools and high schools for a week to save power and keep children safe. Thrilled, hundreds of kids filled the parks in the capital, Belgrade.
Schools will also be closed in Rome on Tuesday, as Italy copes with unusually heavy snow for the Mediterranean country. So far, ten deaths have been linked to winter weather, including two people who were crushed under a collapsed roof south of Rome, and a 91-year-old woman in the port of Trieste who was knocked down by strong winds.
In the north, rescuers had to pluck people from their homes, as piles of snow reached 10 feet in some areas. In Milan, Italy’s fashion and financial capital, temperatures fell to minus 10 Fahrenheit on Monday, and the authorities opened a section of the city subway to shelter some 100 homeless people.
In Bosnia, hundreds of villages were stuck behind snowed-in roads and avalanches and authorities were using helicopters to evacuate the sick and deliver food.