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Frigid Cold, Heavy Snow Leave Dozens Dead Across Europe

  • VOA News

A homeless people sleep under blankets in front of the entrance of a bank, in Milan, Italy, Jan. 7, 2017. In Italy, subfreezing temperatures were blamed on the deaths of a half-dozen homeless people, while heavy snows and high winds resulted in re-routed flights, delayed ferries, canceled trains and closed roads.

A cold wave stretching across Europe has left at least two dozen people dead in the past two days, including several migrants and homeless people, with the frigid temperatures expected to continue.

Four Portuguese tourists were killed and about 20 others were injured Sunday when their bus crashed off an icy highway in central France before dawn on what is locally known as “the road of death.”

The 40-seat bus was on its way to Switzerland. According to authorities, it appeared that the driver lost control of the vehicle because of ice on the road.

Homeless perish

Ten victims of the cold perished in Poland, where temperatures were as low as minus 14 degrees Celsius.

In Italy, the cold has been blamed for seven deaths, including five homeless people, two of them Polish nationals, authorities said.

Heavy snowfall in central and southeast Italy forced the closure of airports at Bari and Brindisi as well as in Sicily.

Prague’s emergency services reported three deaths — two homeless people and a parking lot guard.

Temperatures in Moscow fell to minus 30 degrees overnight and to minus 24 in St. Petersburg, where police found the body of a man who had died of hypothermia.

A boy walks under snow-covered trees during a snowfall in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 7, 2017.
A boy walks under snow-covered trees during a snowfall in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 7, 2017.

Snow in Istanbul

Meanwhile, a huge and heavily laden container ship narrowly missed the shore as it made its way through the Bosporus in Istanbul Saturday. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the strait, one of Europe’s busiest shipping lanes, was closed with ferries being halted earlier in the day.

Heavy snow has crippled Istanbul, and national carrier Turkish Airlines canceled more than 650 flights.

Authorities expect the death toll to rise as weather conditions are set to remain unchanged through the coming days.

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