Europe's Cold Spell: Death Toll Rises To 220 And No End In Sight

by
alan
The death toll attributed to the Arctic weather that has engulfed eastern and central Europe rose to over 220 as temperatures crashed to as low as -38C, and the freeze shows no signs of abating.

Below freezing: A deadly cold snap with temperatures of minus 28 degrees has spread to much of eastern and central Europe.

The death toll attributed to the Arctic weather that has engulfed eastern and central Europe rose to over 220 as temperatures crashed to as low as -38C, and the freeze shows no signs of abating.

In Ukraine, the country hardest hit by the cold front, around 100 people - 75 per cent of them homeless - have now died despite efforts to provide emergency shelters.

Further west in Poland the cold has claimed 36, while in Romania the death toll hit 22.

One town in the south of Poland reported temperatures as low as -38C while similar temperatures struck the south-west of the Czech Republic.

Fresh snow falls blanketed much of the Balkans hampering efforts in Serbia to reach about 11,000 people cut off for days, and the government declared a state of emergency in another four regions, raising the total to 18.

Snow also fell on Croatian islands in the Adriatic, and gave Rome a rare dusting as Italy experienced its coldest week in 27 years.

The freezing weather has also led to a strain on gas supplies from Russia.

Poland and a swath of other states on the EU's eastern flank, many of them dependent on Russian energy, have all noted a drop in supplies, with deliveries to Austria falling by 30 per cent.

Russia, which says it has increased supplies through its pipelines, has accused Ukraine of siphoning off extra gas, an allegation Kiev has denied.

But the drop in deliveries should not lead to the energy shortages experienced in 2009 when a dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to the taps being turned off. Lessons learnt then led to countries increasing their reserve capacity and diversifying supply.

Marlene Holzer, spokeswoman for EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, said that supplies were not at an "emergency level".