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Europe freeze brings deaths, power outages and closures

Europe freeze brings deaths, power outages and closures

January 9th, 2017 by Associated Press in International News

A woman shelters from snowfall with an umbrella as she walks through the street Monday on a cold winter day in Belgrade, Serbia.

Photo by Associated Press /News Tribune.

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Heavy snow and frigid temperatures have gripped large parts of Europe, leading to dozens of deaths, freezing rivers, the grounding of planes and traffic accidents:

Frigid weather has caused at least four deaths in the last three days In Albania. Snow stopped falling on Monday, but freezing temperatures continue to engulf the whole country.

A 52-year-old Albanian man on Monday died in the town of Golem, 50 miles west of Tirana. On Sunday, a 53-year-old street beggar was found dead in the city of Sarande south of the capital Tirana.

A day earlier, another 38-year-old homeless person was found dead in the port city of Durres west of the capital. A 62-year-old man died after sliding from a roof where he was trying to remove ice.

Scores of villages mainly in the north and northeast have been isolated and power and water cuts have been introduced, including the capital.

The situation in northeastern Bulgaria remains critical with heavy snow drifts on the roads, freezing temperatures and power outages that have affected some 2,000 households.

Emergency teams trying to clear the roads to remote villages were hindered by strong winds.

Authorities issued a Yellow Code alert for low temperatures across Bulgaria on Monday.

The cold spell was expected to continue until the end of the week.

Schools across the country remained closed on Monday.

According to Czech public radio on Monday, six people are believed to have died of exposure during the latest cold snap, including in the capital, Prague. Meteorologists forecast freezing temperatures to continue in the coming days.

Swathes of Greece have been covered by snow, including several islands, some of which have seen more than three feet of snow.

Temperatures in some parts of northern Greece have plunged to as low as 0 F. A state of emergency was declared in the municipality of Kymi on the island of Evia, Greece's second largest island after Crete, where the snow in some areas reached 6.5 feet, leading to cuts to electricity and water supplies.

The small eastern Aegean island of Oinousses reported severe problems from the heavy snowfall, with the local mayor telling Greek media the island had been without landline telephone connections for four days. On the island of Lesbos, drivers needed snow chains to drive just outside the main port town of Mytilene, while heavy snowfall also hit Chios and parts of the southern island of Crete, from where some flights to Athens were cancelled.

Chios and Lesbos are home to thousands of refugees, many living in precarious conditions in severely overcrowded camps. Many are still living in tents despite the severe weather. Rights groups have slammed the conditions and called on the Greek government to act quickly to reduce overcrowding.

Poland's government says 10 people died in the cold Sunday as Poland has been gripped by low temperatures. The deaths bring to 65 the number of weather-related fatalities since Nov. 1, when temperatures started falling to freezing, especially at night.

The spokeswoman for the Government Center for Security, Anna Adamkiewicz, said Monday the latest deaths occurred across the country, either outdoors or in unheated summer cottages and abandoned houses.

The victims were nine men between the ages of 32 and 69, and a 52-year-old woman.

In Moscow, two people have died and 190 people with hypothermia have sought medical help in the Russian capital between New Year's Eve and Jan. 8, the last day of the holiday period in Russia, according to Russian news agencies quoting emergency medical official Sergei Gumenyuk.

The Russian Meteorological Service said the Orthodox Christmas Eve on Jan. 6 was the coldest in Moscow since 1987 when temperatures plunged below -24 F. Moscow schools, however, opened on Monday after the holiday recess. In Russia's Urals, schools remained closed in the Tyumen, Khanty-Mansiysky, Sverdlovsk and Yamalo-Nenets regions where temperatures of -31 were recorded.

Police in the southern Swiss region of Valais said a Russian couple were killed and their two children aged 11 and 15 were gravely injured over the weekend after the vehicle they were travelling in tumbled about 740 feet along a snow-covered Alpine road.

Officials said the driver had been trying to park on the roadside, and snowy conditions appeared to have led to the deadly plunge into a pile of rocks. The two children were taken to a local hospital before being flown by helicopter to another in the capital, Bern. They were expected to survive, officials said.