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A homeless man sleeps outside in Rome during freezing weather A homeless man sleeps outside in Rome during freezing weather  (ANSA)

Europe's deep freeze conditions kill dozens

Scores of people have died in severe winter weather across Europe, especially in the eastern parts of the continent where many homeless people and migrants lack shelter.

By Stefan Bos

On Saturday Europeans hopefully awaited a sliver of weekend respite from the  brutal Siberian cold front.

Electric street railways came to a halt, drivers struggled to maneuver their cars, and pedestrians tried to walk to their destinations carefully in Ukraine. Heavy snowfall in that nation paralyzed daily life.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe and the Balkans people suffered as well.

Authorities estimated that Europe's deep freeze has cost more than 60 lives over the past week. At least 23 casualties were reported in Poland alone amid sub-zero temperatures.

Many of the victims are homeless people, including at least some migrants fleeing war and poverty. Eastern Europe often lacks adequate shelters for the many impoverished people in the region.

Suffering deadly blizzards

In Hungary, and nearby Serbia and Croatia people also tried to cope with deadly blizzards that have lashed Europe in recent days.

Also, authorities said at least seven deaths had died in Slovakia, six in the Czech Republic and five in Lithuania. Other deaths occurred in Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.

In Western Europe, some five people died in France, while Siberian winter weather and blizzards also killed people in Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway.

Among those who died in France was a homeless man in Lens, northern France, and a 41-year-old Libyan man who was found dead in an empty train carriage in the western French town of Saintes. Police suspect he died of hypothermia, but could not be sure.

In Austria, police said five migrants abandoned by smugglers were rescued from a motorway near the city of Graz on Friday, some of them walking barefoot in sub-zero temperatures.

Schools, airports closed

Several airports were closed in European nations including in Ireland where tens of thousands of people were without electricity.

And, Italy faced troubles as freezing conditions left several roads blocked owing to snow and black ice with forecasters warning that northern and central regions would see little immediate improvement. Many schools remained closed and local authorities told people to stay indoors unless they urgently needed to travel.

The cold also interrupted plans by British Prime Minister Theresa May's to give a speech in Newcastle on Britain's moves to leave the European Union. Instead, May elected to stay put in London given the transport mayhem.

And, having to change their plans were Andrew Waring and his wife, Daniella, who gave birth to baby daughter Sienna on the side of a snowbound the main road outside the northeastern town of Darlington.

The snow baby is doing fine.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

 

 

03 March 2018, 17:16