Deadly blast of Siberian weather keeps Europe in deep freeze

Updated 2018-03-01 16:40:01 Xinhua

Countries across Europe closed schools and rushed to shelter homeless people on Wednesday as a deadly blast of Siberian weather dubbed the "Beast from the East" caused travel chaos as south as Spain, killing dozens of people.

In the northern half of Spain, train services and flights were delayed, dozens of roads have been closed and drivers were urged to check forecasts before setting out on journeys.

The Spanish news agency Europa Press reported that a 65-year-old man died after slipping on a snow-covered pavement and hitting his head on the ground in the town of Galdacano, close to Bilbao in the Basque Region of northern Spain.

Schools in Italy have been closed due to weather alerts in cities from north to south, and fresh snow is expected in Rome, which woke up under a layer of white on Monday morning for the first time since 2012.

Trenitalia train company said it could guarantee up to 80 percent of its high-speed trains and up to 70 percent of its regional trains after chaos ensued Tuesday, when some travelers told reporters they were stuck for up to 9 hours, local media reported.

The cold snap from the north has also hit the whole area of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), causing havoc on highways and roads, the Federal Institute for Hydrometeorology (FHMZ) said.

Primary and secondary teaching have been suspended in the areas around Bihac, northwest BiH, due to the extremely high level of snow, which had brought numerous problems to citizens that were left without electricity for one day.

France's national weather agency, Meteo France, says a large part of the country is on alert for dangerous levels of snow, ice and violent wind.The area includes 47 departments near the Atlantic coast, in western France and near the Mediterranean Sea.

The snow disrupted public transportation and traffic near the southern city of Montpellier, while several flights scheduled at the local airport were delayed because of the bad weather.

Authorities of Slovenia said an elderly man died of cold when he went out to collect wood near Maribor, close to its border with Austria. The lowest temperature in Slovenia was minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16.6 F), recorded south of the capital, Ljubljana.

In southern Serbia, a man suffering from dementia was found frozen to death Wednesday after he disappeared from his home two days ago. Freezing weather has limited traffic and closed down schools in neighboring Croatia. Snow has fallen even along the Adriatic coast.

Britain's national weather service has upgraded a weather warning for Scotland to its highest level for snow and ice, warning of heavy snow in central Scotland for later in the day on Wednesday and continuing into Thursday.

The extreme weather in Britain has caused hundreds of schools to close, flight cancellations, train delays and disruption on the roads across the country.

Dutch police said that a 75-year-old man has died after falling through ice, likely while skating, in the southern Netherlands.

Police said in a tweet Wednesday that the man, whose identity was not released, died in a hospital in the city of Breda where he was rushed after being spotted in the water near a frozen stretch of water.

Skating fever has gripped the Netherlands as the country's canals, rivers and lakes are frozen, with many people taking to the ice amid warnings and safety tips from authorities and emergency services.

In the meanwhile, a severe snowstorm has hit most parts of Ireland, leaving local resident's lives and businesses in the country seriously disrupted, local media reported.

Latest reports coming in said that over 400 flights were canceled at the airport of the country's capital Dublin, leaving hundreds of local and foreign passengers stranded at the nation's largest airport while delays and cancellations of flights were also reported in some other parts of Ireland.

Sweden's meteorological institute says it has upped its weather warning to level three on a six-step scale because of snowfalls of up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) in the capital, Stockholm, and the southern part of the country.

The Swedish Transport Administration also warned that strong winds could affect road and rail traffic, and urged people in the affected areas to stay home unless necessary.

The announcements came two days after three people were killed in a head-on collision in northern Sweden amid heavy snowfall on Swedish roads.

Temperatures are expected to rise in the coming days, but the bad weather is expected to last past the coming weekend.

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