independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Europe shivers under big freeze

A woman tries to to clear the entrance to her home in the Romanian village of Smeeni (AP)

A cold spell and snowstorms have swept across parts of central and eastern Europe, disrupting power supplies, travel and schools. Four people have died in Bulgaria over the past few days.

Heavy snow and strong winds have left dozens of villages in the eastern half of the country without electricity and water.

A 76-year-old man died after getting stuck in a snowdrift in the village of Povet, near the Bulgarian-Turkish border. Three other men have died in weather-related incidents in eastern villages in the last two days. Many roads are closed to traffic while rescuers try to bring food supplies to remote areas. Hundreds of schools remain closed, and the main Black Sea port of Varna was shut because of high winds.

Snow fell in the central Adriatic coast in Croatia, which is highly unusual because the region has a Mediterranean climate. The ice and snow in the seaside town of Sibenik prompted authorities to close down schools there. Heavy snow is also falling in neighboring Montenegro, causing traffic problems.

Temperatures dipped to -22 C in Moscow and -31 C in surrounding regions, making it the coldest day of the year in the Russian capital.

The temperature was 10 degrees below average for this time of year and expected to drop further. Many Muscovites, however, welcomed the sun and blues skies of a real Russian winter after the gray clouds that hung over the capital for much of December and January.

Big snowstorms have been hitting Romania in recent days, closing down schools and hitting road and rail traffic.

Romania declared a "red code" weather warning in six eastern counties, warning residents of blizzards and near zero visibility. Heavy snow and high winds were forecast for the capital.

A 33-year-old woman travelling by train in north-eastern Romania went into labour early and gave birth to boy aided by a female ticket collector.

Railway firms said more than 160 trains had been cancelled as snow blocked tracks in southern and eastern Romania. About 5,000 people experienced power cuts as the high winds disrupted electricity supplies in southern Romania.

-AP

Press Association

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