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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Heavy snow and icy weather grip parts of Europe

People walk in a park in Warsaw, Poland (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)
People walk in a park in Warsaw, Poland (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Heavy snowfall and below-freezing temperatures have continued to sweep the European continent, causing more than a dozen deaths, grounding planes and crippling ferries in Italy and Turkey.

At least 10 people have died in the cold that has gripped Poland in recent days, including seven men aged 41 and 66 who died on Friday, authorities said.

Temperatures in Poland dropped below minus 20C (minus 4F) on Saturday, and weather forecasters said they would sink more overnight.

A man also died on Saturday in Belgium when his truck slid off a highway.

In Italy, sub-freezing temperatures were blamed for the deaths of half a dozen homeless people.

Heavy snow and high winds resulted in re-routed flights, delayed ferries, cancelled trains and closed roads, media reported.

With no indications of a let-up, some schools in southern Italy were ordered not to open on Monday because a metre of snow had already buried some areas, the ANSA news agency reported.

The chill did not spare sunny Rome. The fountains in St Peter's Square froze overnight and dripped icicles instead.

Temperatures dropped to minus 7C (19F) in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki, and minus 10C (14F) was expected on Sunday, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Several Greek islands, otherwise known for their sunny and warm weather, were blanketed in snow.

Roads were closed temporarily across large swathes of northern Greece due to snow and ice.

Heavy snow also crippled Istanbul, and national carrier Turkish Airlines cancelled more than 650 flights.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that even the Bosporus Strait - which runs through Istanbul and is one of Europe's busiest shipping lanes - was closed and ferry service halted.

Turkey's private Dogan news agency reported that one of the main highways in Istanbul practically turned into a car park after drivers deserted their cars on Friday night to walk home rather than battle the gusting snow and slippery roads.

Two delivery men whose truck was parked on a side street made the best of the situation, engaging in a snowball fight in between pushing their loads through mounds of snow that built up at the roadside.

In northern Europe, where residents are accustomed to sub-zero temperatures and snowy winters, police in Denmark warned about icy and slippery roads after dozens of minor traffic accidents.

Temperatures in Latvia were forecast to drop to minus 30C (minus 22F) late on Saturday, the Baltic News Agency said.

AP

Press Association

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