Europe is freezing. Black Sea is frozen on the Romanian coastline and 101 people died in Ukraine.
Black Sea is frozen near the Romanian coastline and villagers in Serbia and Bosnia were airlifted from their homes after being cut off without food, after the dramatic icy weather hit Europe.
Meanwhile in Italy, snow fell in Rome today for the first time in 26 years as freezing temperatures took the death toll across Europe to more than 150.
Rome is usually blessed by a moderate climate but the snowfall prompted authorities stop visitors from entering the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome’s ancient emperors.
The last substantial snowfalls in Rome were in 1985 and 1986, though there have been other cases of lighter snow since then, including in 2010.
The director of the Colosseum, Rossella Rea, said the sites were closed out of fears that visitors could slip on ice.
Snow began falling in the late morning Friday, leaving a light dusting on trees and cars and forming slush on the roads. It wasn’t clear if there would be any significant accumulation on the ground.
But the most dramatic situation is in Ukraine, where 101 people have now died as a result of freezing weather in the country since last Friday, the government has announced in Kiev.
Most of the 101 who died were homeless people and 64 of them were found dead on the streets, the emergencies ministry said.
Hundreds of others have been treated in hospital for frostbite, hypothermia and other cold-related conditions.
Temperatures plunged to below -35C in parts of Eastern Europe this week.
At least eight more deaths were reported in Poland on Thursday, bringing the death toll there since last week to 37.
Cold weather deaths have been reported across Eastern and Central Europe:
• Russia recorded 64 cold weather deaths for the whole of January, Interfax news agency reports, but it is unclear if this is related directly to the hard frosts which began last week
• In Serbia at least 11,000 villagers have been trapped by heavy snow and blizzards in mountainous areas, the Associated Press reports
• In Italy, weather experts said it was the coldest week for 27 years.
• In Romania, 24 people have died because of cold weather during last days.
In Ukraine, more freezing weather was forecast for Friday, with overnight temperatures set to fall to as low as -32C in the north and west.
The authorities closed schools and colleges and set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters across the country.
Health officials instructed hospitals not to discharge homeless patients, even after treatment, in order to save them from the cold.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced that the country had burnt 1 billion cu m of gas in just three days.
The country’s gas order from Russia for the whole of 2012 is 27 billion cu m.
“It’s a very hard time for the country,” he said, promising that the difficulties would be overcome.
The Russian gas supplier, Gazprom, said Ukraine was exceeding the level of gas consumption envisaged in the contract.
Most Russian gas exports to EU countries transit Ukraine. On Thursday Austria’s energy firm OMV reported a 30% drop in its supply of Russian gas, while Italy’s gas distributor Snam Rete Gas said its Russian gas was down by about 20%.
In the winter of 2009 Russia accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas meant for European customers. Gazprom cut supplies, leaving more than a dozen countries short of Russian gas.
Some, like Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, are almost completely dependent on supplies via Ukraine and so were left with major shortages, during a very cold spell in Europe.
Ukraine’s Emergencies Minister Viktor Baloga has advised the public to take more exercise as a remedy against the cold.
“You need to get up in the morning, take active exercise and work,” he was quoted by Ukrainskaya Pravda as telling reporters on Wednesday.
“It hasn’t killed anyone yet and only makes a person fitter.”
His personal advice to keep warm, he added, was to “run 8-10km [5-6 miles] every morning and bathe in cold water, all year round”.
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