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24 July 2024

Deadly European cold snap spreads


A cold snap that killed 30 people in the Ukraine over the past five days on Tuesday spread to much of eastern and central Europe with record lows in Bulgaria and heavy snow falls in Switzerland.

Emergency services in the Ukraine said most of the dead were homeless people who froze to death on the streets, four were found in their homes, and over 600 people sought medical help for frostbite and hypothermia.

Authorities opened 1,590 shelters to provide food and heat, and were planning to set up 150 more, as temperatures plunged to minus 28 degrees Celsius (-18 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.

Meanwhile, police in Poland reported five new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the overall toll for January to 27 as overnight temperatures dipped to minus 30 Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit).

In Vilnius, the capital of neighbouring Lithuania, one homeless man was found dead Tuesday, bringing the death toll there to eight since Saturday.

In the Czech Republic, a woman was found frozen to death in a garden shed in the capital Prague, police said.

Meanwhile, two died in Romania, raising the death toll to eight since Thursday, the health ministry said.

Temperatures plunged to minus 27 degrees Celsius (-16 Fahrenheit) in central Romania Monday night.

Neighbouring Bulgaria reported record lows and the Danube started to freeze over, threatening shipping.

Eighteen towns, including the capital Sofia, recorded their coldest January 31 since records started 100 years ago with the mercury dropping as low as minus 29 degrees Celsius (-20.2 Fahrenheit) in Kneja, in the northeast, according to the national weather service.

In Switzerland, some 10 centimetres (3.9 inches) of snow fell Tuesday morning hampering flights, and the weather service predicted temperatures would drop to minus 15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit) in the ski resorts of Saint-Moritz and Sils-Maria.