Snow, icy weather set Europe shivering

7th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

In Romania two people died of cold Sunday and and several had to be taken to hospital while 10 people have died in Poland since Friday.

PARIS - Arctic weather that has killed at least 10 people in recent days kept Europe freezing Tuesday, coating much of the continent in snow and disrupting air and road traffic.

In central Romania the thermometer dropped to minus 31 Celsius (minus 24 Fahrenheit). Two people died of cold Sunday and and several had to be taken to hospital while 10 people have died in Poland since Friday.

Germany recorded minus 26C (minus 15F) and a mentally ill woman of 77 who wandered out of a home in the east of the country was found frozen to death in her  garden.

Police in the southeast of the Netherlands said Tuesday they had arrested overnight a homeless man who refused to go to a reception centre to stop him from freezing to death.

Temperatures of between minus 5C (23F) and minus 10C (14F) were recorded in much of eastern and central Europe while in the Norwegian capital Oslo the thermometer registered a relatively clement minus 4C (25F).

Snow covered much of Germany, part of Belgium and north and central Italy. Traffic at many European airports was disrupted though it also limped back to normal at the main international Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris.

"It did not snow last night. The runways are clear and have been de-iced. Traffic is returning to normal," said a Roissy official.

Many roads, as far as northern Spain, were affected by snow and ice.

In Paris the Eiffel tower, closed on Monday, reopened after being thawed out and cleared of snow.

Bad weather in France forced school closures in some regions and the national weather service predicted frigid temperatures would linger for several days.

Electricity consumption in France Monday night hit a record level.

Heating problems closed many British schools, while repair services received a record number of cold-related calls.

The cold weather also allowed the Dutch to participate in a national skating marathon for the first time since 1996 on the Oostervaardseplassen fresh water tidal area, near Amsterdam.

But penguins in a Dutch zoo were moved indoors and an ice-breaker patrolled Rotterdam harbour.

The wintry weather coincided with reports of sharp falls in gas deliveries from Russia via Ukraine, as Kiev and Moscow remain locked in a payment dispute.

Some 13 European countries have reported sharp falls or a complete halt in Russian gas shipments. While experts say gas reserves will mitigate any immediate impact, the European Union has called the situation "completely unacceptable."


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