European weather deaths pass 100Freezing weather brings death and disruption in Germany, Italy and across eastern Europe
Tuesday 22 December 2009
More than 100 people have been killed in the cold snap across Europe, with temperatures plummeting and snowfall causing chaos from Moscow to Milan.
In Poland, where temperatures have dropped to as low as -20C in some areas, police appealed for tip-offs about people spotted lying around outside. At least 42 people, most of them homeless, died over the weekend.
In Ukraine 27 people have frozen to death since the thermometer dropped last week. Authorities in Romania said 11 people had succumbed to the chill, and in the Czech Republic the toll was 12. In Germany, where temperatures have fallen to -33C in certain parts, at least seven people are known to have lost their lives in the freezing weather.
For millions of others across the continent, the cold snap has brought severe disruption, with flight cancellations and traffic jams thwarting pre-Christmas travel plans.
The resumption of Eurostar services brought some relief to passengers travelling between France, Belgium and England, but many trains across Europe were delayed or cancelled.
Airports were struggling to cope with icy runways, with Ryanair and Easyjet among several airlines to cancel some flights.
In Frankfurt, where snowfall prompted delays and cancellations, 3,000 people were forced to spend last night inside the terminals at the city's main airport. "It is totally chaotic today … no one knows what's going on – neither us nor the staff," Dorothee Schaefle, waiting in line, told Die Welt newspaper.
Roads were not exempt from the chaos. After a weekend that brought the heaviest snowfall in about 100 years, Moscow was gridlocked, with tailbacks snailing around the Russian capital.
In Italy, where winters are usually mild, motorways in the north-east were closed and the Ministry of Defence dispatched helicopters in Sicily to bring medical aid to those in need.
In Milan hundreds of soldiers worked through the night to clear the snow- and ice-covered streets.