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World shivers in big chill

Arctic air and record snow falls have gripped the northern hemisphere, inflicting hardship and havoc from China, across Russia to Western Europe and over the US plains.

There were few precedents for the global sweep of extreme cold and ice that killed dozens in India, paralysed life in Beijing and threatened the Florida orange crop.

Chicagoans sheltered from a potentially killer freeze, Paris endured sunny Siberian cold, Italy dug itself out of snowdrifts and Poland counted at least 13 deaths in record low temperatures of about minus 25C (-13F).

The heaviest snow yesterday hit northeastern Asia, which is suffering its worst winter weather for 60 years.

More than 25cm of snow covered Seoul, the South Korean capital – the heaviest fall since records began in 1937. In China, Beijing and Tianjin had the deepest snow since 1951.