Cold weather kills dozens in eastern Europe

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Media captionFreezing weather has hit many areas of central and eastern Europe

At least 60 people have died due to freezing conditions caused by a cold snap in eastern and central Europe.

The drop in temperatures, forcing some countries to deploy the army and set up emergency shelters, is set to continue to Friday, forecasters say.

At least 30 people - mostly homeless - have died in Ukraine. Deaths have also been reported in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, among others.

Temperatures plunged to -20C (-4F) on Monday.

Health officials in Ukraine say nearly 24,000 people have sought refuge in some 1,590 shelters over the past three days.

More than 600 people have sought treatment for frostbite and hypothermia during this time.

The authorities say they are planning to set up 150 more centres, as heavy snow was forecast in the region on Wednesday.

'Elderly and homeless'

The death toll in Poland over recent days rose to 21 on Tuesday. The Interior Affairs Ministry said some had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty heaters, according to the Associated Press news agency.

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Media captionBBC weather forecaster Susan Powell explains what is causing the cold snap in much of Europe

Poland had been having a relatively mild winter, until temperatures dropped last Friday from just below freezing to -26C (-15F).

Malgorzata Wozniak of Poland's interior ministry said elderly people and the homeless were among the dead, AP reports.

Polish forecasters have warned that temperatures could fall further during the week, to below -20C during the day and -30C at night.

At least eight people have died in Romania and five in Bulgaria.

Troops in Romania were deployed last week to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards.

In Serbia, police reported that the snowy conditions had led to the deaths of a woman and two elderly men. Two other men, in their 70s, are believed to be missing in the south of the country.

Reports say there were also deaths in Lithuania, Bosnia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

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