Wed, Feb 08, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Europe uses bombs, tractors in struggle against big freeze

AFP, BELGRADE and ROME

People walk through the snowy landscape over the Rennsteig hiking trail near Tabarz, Germany, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Authorities yesterday used everything from ice-breaking explosives to tractors to overcome Europe’s big freeze, as dozens more died of hypothermia and tens of thousands remained cut off by snow.

A total of 389 people are now known to have died from the cold weather in Europe since the cold snap began 11 days ago and forecasters are warning there will be no early letup to some of the lowest temperatures seen in decades.

While there was some respite for people living in the Ukraine — where more than 130 deaths have been recorded — the mercury plunged overnight to minus-39.4°C in the Kvilda region of the Czech Republic.

More bodies were found either on the streets, in cars or in homes in Germany, Italy, Poland and across the Balkans.

Authorities in Serbia said that 70,000 people were trapped in snow-bound villages in the south as they declared an “emergency situation.” The order, which is one step down from a state of emergency, allows the government to order private companies to help clear away the snow.

Italy was set to hold emergency talks yesterday aimed at maximizing gas supplies to vulnerable households as the cold snap tightened its grip on the country and the death toll rose to 26.

Life in the center of Rome returned to normal after days of chaos in the wake of the heaviest snowfall in 27 years, but schools remained closed and thousands in the surrounding region were still without electricity or heating.

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