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Heavy snow across Europe brings further deaths


Romanian police clear the snow outside a school. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

Romanian police clear the snow outside a school. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

Romanian police clear the snow outside a school. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

Heavy snow has blanketed Eastern Europe, creating fresh hazards for people already struggling with travel delays, power outages and sub-zero temperatures.

Two more deaths were reported on Wednesday in Poland, the country hit hardest by the recent cold snap to sweep Europe - which has now been blamed for at least 65 deaths.

Blizzards began early on Wednesday in Romania, closing more than 130 roads and causing delays on the railway.

Thousands of commuters rode the Bucharest underground train, while others walked on the streets, as snow piled high on the pavements. Several people were seen skiing.

In Serbia, where recent frigid temperatures have caused six deaths, authorities evacuated 130 snowbound residents.

Dozens of vehicles rescued people stuck in snowdrifts.

Schools were closed in the worst-affected areas of Serbia and Romania.

Greece's navy sent a ship to the island of Lesbos to house some 500 refugees and migrants.

A medical association on the island said conditions at the main camp there were "inhuman", with migrants in tents exposed to freezing temperatures.

Swathes of northern and eastern Bulgaria were paralysed by snowdrifts that blocked roads and left 117 towns and villages without electricity.

The main highway linking the capital Sofia with the Black Sea port of Burgas was closed.

Bulgarian soldiers used heavy machinery to clear major roads, rescue stranded people and supply remote villages with food and water.

The energy ministry said that it had turned down emergency requests for power from neighbours Greece and Turkey to avoid the possibility of having to ration electricity for domestic customers.

In Kosovo, police said a homeless man was found dead, apparently from hypothermia, the second cold-related fatality reported in that country.

As temperatures plummeted to -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit), there were power outages in many areas. Meteorologists said it was the coldest weather since 1963, when the eastern city of Gjilan recorded a low of -32.5 Celsius.

Snow continued to cut off communities in southern Albania where the death toll stood at five, most of them homeless people.

Army helicopters and emergency authorities were distributing aid to remote mountain areas, while military and civil heavy vehicles helped clear snowbound roads in the coldest weather since 1985.


PA Media