Expatica news

Belgium hit by euro cold snap

28 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Temperatures in Belgium plummeted in the early hours of Monday morning to between -11 and -17 degrees after a cold spell descended on the country from Scandinavia.

The freezing weather, which has hit much of Europe, can be explained by the north easterly winds sweeping across Belgium at 60-70 km/hour.

The cold snap is not normal but neither is it exceptional.

The same phenomenon occurred in 1971.

Plunging temperatures have hit Belgium’s homeless people the hardest.

Reports from Charleroi say there are not enough beds available in emergency shelters, leaving many homeless people only with doorways to shiver in.

Charleroi has three homeless shelters, but this only supplies 20 beds to cover the entire surrounding region.

According to one man on the streets, Jo, the Ulysse shelter has four beds for women that remain empty if there are no women there.

Another homeless centre, the Marchienne, is only for medical cases and one at Mont-sur-Marchienne is only for couples.

Jo said that although he had a flat for EUR 225 a month, it had no heating and he was forced to go elsewhere to warm up.

The severe winter conditions have also led to an explosion in the number of car problems reported to breakdown companies VAB and Touring.

“The calls started before 6am this morning and that is already unusual,” said Touring’s Anne Buytaert.

“By 10 am we had already received double the number of calls we normally do on a Monday in winter, especially from Wallonia and Brussels,” she added.

Most of the car troubles were starting difficulties caused by defective batteries.

Touring has promised to put more staff on duty as the cold spell of between -2 and -12 is expected to continue for the next few days.

Some Belgians were happy with the winter conditions, however.

Skiers headed for the slopes in Liege and Luxembourg, where the snow is still lying 45 to 50 cm deep in some places.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news