Big freeze death toll rises in eastern Europe

 

Helicopters have lifted dozens of people from snow-blocked villages in Serbia and Bosnia and brought in emergency food and medicine as a severe cold spell kept eastern Europe in its icy grip.

The death toll from the cold rose to 79 and emergency services worked overtime as temperatures sank to minus 32.5C in some areas.

Even parts of the Black Sea froze near the Romanian coastline and the rare show fell on Croatian islands in the Adriatic.

In central Serbia, helicopters pulled out 12 people, including nine who went to a funeral but then could not get back over icy, snow-choked roads. Two more people froze to death in the snow and two others are missing, bringing that nation's death toll to five.

"The situation is dramatic, the snow is up to five meters (16 1/2 feet) high in some areas, you can only see rooftops," said a doctor who helped the helicopter evacuations.

One of those rescued was an elderly woman who had fallen into a coma. She survived after being airlifted to a hospital.

Two helicopters were also used to rescue people and supply remote villages in northern Bosnia.

"We are trying to get through to several small villages, with each just a few elderly residents," said a Bosnian rescue official.

"All together some 200-300 people are cut off. We are supplying them for the second day with food and medication."

Some villages have had no electricity for two days and engineers were working around-the-clock trying to fix power lines.

Ukraine alone reported 43 deaths, mostly of homeless people. The country's Emergency Situations Ministry said 28 people had been found dead on the streets, eight died in hospitals and seven in their homes. Over 720 others were hospitalised with hypothermia and frostbite.

Authorities have deployed over 1,730 heating shelters across the country, handing out hot tea, coffee, boiled potatoes and pork fat - a traditional Ukrainian dish - to the homeless. Hospitals were told not to discharge homeless patients even if their treatment was finished to protect them from the cold.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov urged Ukrainians to stay vigilant, dress warmly and help each other in the face of the severe weather.

"I call on citizens, enterprises, organizations not to be indifferent, to support and protect those people who cannot help themselves in this difficult time," he said. "We are one people."

His comments after some experts suggested Ukraine's high death toll was linked to authorities' unwillingness and incompetence in dealing with the homeless.

In Romania, temperatures plunged to minus 32.5C, and six homeless people died in the past 24 hours of hypothermia Hundreds of others were sent to shelters to protect them from the extreme cold.

Five people died of hypothermia in Poland, bringing its toll up to 20 since Friday.

In Russia, temperatures fell to minus 21C in Moscow but only one person was reported to have died of the cold.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable