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Cash machines freeze up in Bulgaria

By Reuters

In Moscow, where daytime temperatures fell as low as minus 22C (minus 8F) Celsius, opponents of Vladimir Putin worried that the cold could reduce attendance at a rally against the prime minister on Saturday, one month before he stands in presidential elections.

Thermometers in parts of Bulgaria plunged to record lows just shy of minus 30C (minus 22F), freezing cash machines in Sofia, daily newspaper Trud reported. Eight people in Bulgaria and 14 in neighbouring Romania have died in the cold snap.

Poland said five people died overnight, two of them from carbon monoxide poisoning as people turned to risky heating to battle temperatures likely to remain as low at minus 26C (minus 15F) for several more days. The country's gas monopoly PGNiG said on Wednesday it had restricted industrial deliveries to meet increased heating demand.

In Slovenia, winds of up to 180 kph (112 mph) blew off roofs and prompted authorities to close some schools, officials said.

And as temperatures plunged in Albania, the state ombudsman helped move 15 families from the Roma community into his office in Tirana after they were evicted from a suburban area.

"This is an emergency solution. We could not have left these citizens under the sky in this icy weather," said Igli Totozani, the ombudsman. "They will not leave until we find a solution."