x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Deep freeze across Europe has killed more than 150

Emergency crews were working overtime to protect the homeless and stranded across the region as temperatures sank to -32.5°C.

A homeless woman sits inside a large tent set up as a shelter in Prague, the Czech capital, during severe weather that has killed over 150 people across Europee.
A homeless woman sits inside a large tent set up as a shelter in Prague, the Czech capital, during severe weather that has killed over 150 people across Europee.

WARSAW // Europe's death toll from a week of frozen weather rose to more than 150 yesterday, as officials scrambled to protect the homeless and stranded from the cold that is killing them.

Officials reported 20 more deaths in Ukraine yesterday and nine more in Poland.

Emergency crews were working overtime across the region as temperatures sank to -32.5°C.

The Russia gas giant, Gazprom, warned on Wednesday that it may not be able to maintain supplies to Europe amid the cold snap.

Authorities in Serbia said yesterday 11,000 villagers were trapped by heavy snow. The people live in 6,500 homes in remote mountainous areas.

Parts of the Black Sea froze near the Romanian coastline and the rare snow fell on Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea.

In Bulgaria, 16 towns recorded their lowest temperatures since records started 100 years ago.

Poland's victims were mostly homeless people under the influence of alcohol who were seeking shelter in unheated buildings.

Officials appealed to the public to quickly help anyone they saw in need.

In Ukraine, 63 people have died from the cold in the last week.

Nearly 950 others were in hospital with hypothermia and frostbite and more than 2,000 heated tents have been set up with hot food for the homeless.

To the south, helicopters evacuated dozens of people from snow-blocked villages in Bosnia this week and flew in food and medicine.

"We are trying to get through to several small villages", with mostly elderly residents, said the Bosnian rescue official, Milimir Doder. "Some 200 to 300 people are cut off. We are supplying them for the second day with food and medication."

In the small Bosnian hamlet of Han Kran on Mt Romanija, villagers waited for a helicopter at a flat spot that they had cleared of snow.

"We are barely coping. I live on my own - it is a real struggle," said Radenka Jeftovic, an elderly woman wrapped in woollen scarfs and hugging a food package.

Goran Milat, a younger resident, said "the minuses are killing us".

"We are thankful for this help," he added. "But the snow did what it did and we are blocked here until spring."

Some Bosnian villages have had no electricity for days and crews were working round-the-clock trying to fix power lines.

Schools, nurseries and colleges across the region shut down, including one school in eastern Hungary that said it could not afford the high heating bills.

The airport in Montenegro's capital of Podgorica shut down late on Wednesday because of heavy snowfall.