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Europe Cold Wave Claims 260 Lives

The death toll from the vicious cold snap across Europe has risen to more than 260, with hundreds having to be rescued after a ferry caught in a snow storm hit a breakwater off Italy.

Ukraine has suffered the heaviest toll with 122 deaths, including many who froze to death in the streets as temperatures plunged to as low as minus 38.1 degrees Celsius (minus 36.5 Fahrenheit). Airports were shut, flights and trains delayed, and highways gridlocked as emergency services raced to clear falling snow.

In Italy, the ferry Sharden hit a breakwater shortly after setting off from the port of Civitavecchia near Rome. It caused panic among the 262 passengers who feared a repeat of a cruise ship tragedy in the area last month that is thought to have killed 32 people. Coastguard spokesman Carnine Albano said the accident, which tore a 25-metre (80-foot) hole in the ship’s side above the waterline, happened after the vessel was buffeted by a violent snow storm from the north-east. All passengers were evacuated and no injuries reported.

The heaviest snowfall in 27 years in Rome caused the capital, better known for its warm sunshine, to grind to a halt with taxis and buses unable to navigate the icy streets.

Parts of the Venice lagoon also froze over.

Among the cold-weather deaths in Italy was 46-year-old woman who died in Avellino, near Naples in southern Italy, after a greenhouse roof laden with snow collapsed on her.

A homeless man in his sixties of German origin was found dead, apparently of cold, in the central town of Castiglione del Lago. These latest deaths brought the total in Italy to seven.

In Poland, the death toll rose to 45 as temperatures reached minus 27C (minus 32F) in the north-east. In Romania, four more victims were found, bringing the number of fatalities to 28.

The cold snap has also killed people in Bosnia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, France, Austria and Greece. Snow fell in Bosnia for the second straight day, paralysing traffic, with one patient dying as an ambulance was unable to reach his village in the south of the country.

Two people were found dead in Croatia on Saturday, in the southern region near the Adriatic coast and the main port Split where the snow has surprised inhabitants, Hina news agency reported. In Serbia, a man was found dead in the southern town Lebane as the authorities in 28 municipalities, mostly in remote mountainous regions in the south and southwest, declared a state of emergency.

Maric said some “60,000 people … or 25,000 households, have been cut off by snow” with emergency services engaged in clearing off the areas and bringing in necessities.

In tiny Montenegro, where one person was found frozen to death in a village, many hamlets in the mountainous north were cut off. Rescuers managed to evacuate 120 people, among them 31 school children from neighbouring Albania on a field trip, Interior Minister Ivan Brajovic said.

The freeze shut several airports in eastern and central Europe.

Further west, London Heathrow, the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger traffic, cancelled 30 percent of Sunday’s flights as it braced for heavy snow and freezing fog.

In the Netherlands, Amsterdam-Schiphol airport reported dozens of delays and cancellations.

In France, snow fell from Lille in the north to Marseille in the south, though the west of the country and the capital Paris were spared.

A 12-year-old boy died in the eastern French city of Strasbourg when the ice broke as he played with a friend on a frozen pond, paramedics said.

“He fell straight through and couldn’t be revived by the medics,” Philippe Biette, of the emergency services said.

His friend, 11, was in hospital being treated for hypothermia after plunging in to try to save him.

Frigid temperatures even edged into north Africa, with the temperature forecast to drop below freezing in Algiers on Saturday night.

In Algeria’s eastern region, a 17-year-old man was assumed killed after he was swept away by a swollen river. Many domestic and international flights were cancelled… (Yahoo)

R.I.P. to all those who were taken by this cold wave.


February 5, 2012 - Posted by | Climate, Weather | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Chaos Sweeps Away the World We Know! The Disaster, current events & Catastrophe Blog. Forecasts for 2012 to 2020. Read tomorrows news today! Plus current economic, commodities, stock indices and financial news. and commented:
    February 5, 2012 – Good story on the cold wave that has spread across europe.
    The Master of Disaster

    Comment by wfoster2011 | February 5, 2012 | Reply

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