Europe freeze: Heavy snow across continent

  • 1 February 2012
  • From the section Europe

Heavy snow has caused disruption across Europe, carpeting much of Italy to the south and Turkey to the east.

The freeze that has swept south through the continent has caused at least 80 deaths, mainly in Ukraine and Poland.

Temperatures were so low that some areas in Romania along the shores of the Black Sea froze.

In central Italy, heavy goods lorries were barred from motorways and several top-flight football matches have fallen victim to the wintry conditions.

Ukrainian officials reported that the number of deaths attributed to the freeze had risen to 43, with 13 people falling victim to hypothermia in the past 24 hours.

Schools and colleges in the capital, Kiev, were shut on Wednesday because of the severe cold.

School closures were also reported in northern Greece, where temperatures of -16C (3F) were recorded.

Bosnians waiting for supplies in Sokolac (1 Feb 2012)
Villages were cut off in Bosnia where temperatures fell to -10C

Several towns and cities in Bulgaria saw record lows, with -29C reported in Kneja in the north for the second day running. For much of the country an "orange" alert was in place, warning of dangerously low temperatures.

A 57-year-old man froze to death in a village in the north-west and 450 schools were closed across the country.

In Bosnia and Serbia helicopters were used to airlift supplies to villages cut off by drifting snow.

Seven more deaths were reported in Poland, bringing to more than 20 the number who have fallen victim to the cold snap. Five were said to have been homeless people.

German media reported that ice and sub-zero temperatures had led to the deaths of two women: a pedestrian froze after falling into a drainage ditch and a driver was killed when she lost control of her car on an icy road.

Workers clear snow at the Renato Dall"Ara stadium in Bologna (1 Feb 2012)
For a second night running, matches in Italy's Serie A were called off

In Turkey, three crew-members from a ship that sank during a storm in the Black Sea were pulled out alive by coastguard near the north-western port of Eregli but eight others were missing.

The bulk carrier Vera, with a crew of 10 Ukrainians and a Georgian, had been carrying a cargo of scrap metal from Rostov in Russia to Izmir in western Turkey.

Snowfalls were recorded as far south as southern Italy and Corsica, where at least 20cm of snow covered the centre of the Mediterranean island.

Italian rail services were reduced because of the wintry conditions. In Sicily, a one-year-old boy was fatally injured when his mother's car went into a stream swollen by torrential rain.

Several football matches in Italy's Serie A were postponed on Tuesday night and there were doubts that Wednesday's clash between Inter Milan and Palermo would take place. Workers cleared snow from the pitch at the Renato Dall'Ara stadium in Bologna but the match against Fiorentina was later postponed.

The cold snap, according to forecasters, is due to an area of high pressure that has extended across Europe from Siberia and is expected to reach its peak at the weekend.

BBC weather presenter Peter Gibbs said he expected the bitter weather to continue for several more days across most of Europe, with cold winds and snow also spreading further south to affect the Balearic Islands and parts of northwest Africa by the weekend.

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