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Europe gripped by polar weather

January 10, 8:32 UTC+3 ROME

More than 20 people have already frozen to death

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Rome, January 9

Rome, January 9

© EPA/Massimo Percossi

ROME, January 9. /TASS/. A spell of abnormally cold and snowy weather that has gripped Europe is forcing local authorities to take urgent action and impose emergency situation regimes.

More than 20 people have already frozen to death. Volunteers are helping the authorities to deal with the effects of bad weather. Weather forecasts however inspire no optimism.

Frost victims

In Poland alone, according to the Government Center for Security, ten people have frozen to death. The Centre warns that abnormal frosts are dangerous not only for the homeless but also for the sick and the elder who live alone. 

People are asked to dial 112 to inform about anyone who needs help.

The situation in Italy is no better. Thus, according to earlier reports, the New Year cold spell claimed eight lives. Most of these people were migrants.

The death toll from heavy frosts in the Czech Republic has reached six people. Four of them were found frozen to death in the streets of the capital city of Prague. Notably, these people could have found shelter at centers for the homeless organized by the municipal authorities and humanitarian organizations.

In Greece, according to official statistics, bad weather has claimed two human lives. One man was found severely frostbitten. Rescuers took him to hospital but medics failed to save him. A woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning when she tried to start a fire in her fireplace to warm up.

One man froze to death in Serbia. Rescuers are searching for one more missing man.

Authorities impose emergency situation regime

Frosts and heavy snowfalls are forcing the authorities to impose emergency situation regimes and take other urgent action. Thus, such regime was imposed in nine Serbian municipalities. A red (the highest out of five possible) level weather warning has been issued for the entire country. Navigation along the country’s two main rivers, the Danube and Sava, has been stopped as they are icing due to the frosts, dubbed by the local media as "Siberian."

Bulgaria’s authorities have also stopped navigation along the Danube as up to 50% of the river bed is covered with ice.

A state of emergency was imposed on the Greek islands of Alonissos and Skopelos (the Northern Sporades archipelago) and in the Kymi-Aliveri municipality on the island of Euboea. According to the governor of Central Greece, Kostas Bakoyannis, ten villages are still not reachable because of snow in the Kymi-Aliveri municipality. Problems with electricity and water supplies and stationary telephone communication are reported on the islands of Alonissos and Skopelos.

Charity

Volunteers are helping official authorities to deal with the effects of the cold weather and offer assistance to those caught by the bad weather in the streets. Thus, Czech charity organizations are taking efforts to help the homeless, the number of which is estimated at more than 5,000 in central Prague alone. These people are provided with shelter and hot meals.

Pope Francis has ordered to keep shelter homes for the homeless in the vicinity of Vatican City open round-the-clock and distribute cold-weather sleeping bags. Addressing believers with his traditional Sunday prayer, he asked people to raise prayers for those who have no homes on these cold days.

Classes were cancelled on Monday, the first school day after the winter holidays, in most of Greek schools. Serbia’s authorities said that schools in some of the country’s regions might be closed due to the extremely cold weather.

Weather forecasts

Weather forecasts in Europe inspire little optimism. Thus, it is expected that air temperatures in the Czech Republic might go down to -20C or lower in the next few days. Italy is to live through yet another spell of cold between January 11 and 15. According to weather forecasts, frosty weather with heavy snowfalls and strong winds has set in till the end of January in Slovakia and Bulgaria.

Slovak weathermen seem to be more optimistic as they say air temperatures are to go up starting from January 10.

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