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East Europe Freeze Death Toll Exceeds 100 as Towns Blocked

Eastern Europe Cold Snap Death Toll Exceeds 100
A woman walks in the center of Kiev. Photographer: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A cold snap sweeping through eastern Europe has killed more than 100 people, stranded tens of thousands in their homes and in transit and hampered road, rail and sea traffic.

The death toll rose to 63 over the past six days in Ukraine, according to the Emergency Ministry’s website, which said 945 people were hospitalized with frostbite. The extreme weather has claimed 35 lives in Poland since Jan. 24, according to the police, while 22 citizens died in Romania, many of them homeless who refused to go into shelters, Realitatea TV said.

Temperatures fell to as low as minus 36 Celsius (minus 32.8 Fahrenheit) in parts of Ukraine, where the snow stranded more than 40,000 people in eight villages in the Black Sea region of Odessa. In Hungary, 11 counties issued a first-degree alert because of the cold and the weather service said temperatures would plunge further next week, MTI news service reported.

“Temperatures have plunged since Jan. 25 and the extreme cold will last until Feb. 4,” Mykola Kulbida, the director of the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center, said in a phone interview today. The coldest weather was recorded in the Crimean region’s mountains, he said, adding that temperatures will rise as much as 12 Celsius in a few days.

Electricity Consumption

Twenty-eight people have frozen to death since Nov. 1 in Moscow and 128 people were hospitalized with hypothermia and frostbite, Interfax agency reported yesterday citing unnamed health care official. Most of those who died were homeless. Temperatures in Moscow will be as low as -24 , according to Russia’s meteo agency. The agency warned that temperatures may drop in Magadan region to as low as minus 50.

Russian electricity consumption surged to an all-time record yesterday amid a severe cold spell across much of the country’s territory, OAO System Operator said today on its website. Power use reached 156,964 megawatts as of 10 a.m. yesterday in Moscow with outside temperature at minus 25 Celsius, the Russian power-network administrator said.

Serbia, Czech Republic

Six people died in Serbia and one person is missing because of the extreme weather, police said. One of the dead was a 50 year-old woman whose body was uncovered by a snowplough clearing the road near her home in Kursumlija, 292 kilometers (181 miles) south of Belgrade. Six people have died because of the cold in the Czech Republic, the Lidove Noviny newspaper reported on its website, citing police. Temperatures plunged to minus 31 Celsius in the mountains, according to the state meteorological service.

Heating pipes burst in the center of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, near parliament, threatening the heating of 146 buildings as day temperatures fell to minus 26 Celsius, Vilniaus Energija, the heating company, said in a press release today. Lithuanian gas utility Lietuvos Dujos AB increased Russian gas imports to supply heating facilities, the company said in an e-mail. Lietuvos Dujos added a temporary gas imports line via Latvia to boost supplies through Belarus.

In Georgia, more than 60,000 households were left without power as heavy winds blew the roofs off of some buildings in the capital Tbilisi, Avto Dvalishvili a spokesman for AO Energo-Pro Georgia, said by phone.

Heavy Snowfall

The cold snap also blocked transportation across the region. In Georgia, dozens of trucks were stranded for a 10th day, the Rustavi 2 television station reported. Some rail tracks were frozen and some train engines didn’t start in the Czech Republic, delaying traffic.

Heavy snowfall closed four national roads in Romania, the transport ministry said today. The A2 highway has been reopened after a temporary closing earlier today. The two main highways connecting Zagreb and the Croatian ports of Rijeka and Split were partially closed and most ferry lines to islands were suspended, HINA national news service reported.

Ship traffic resumed at Luka Koper d.d., Slovenia’s only, port, as winds subsided, the spokesman for the port operator, Sebastjan Sik, said in a phone interview. Ship traffic was suspended yesterday, he said.

Winds in the southwestern part of Slovenia, nestled between the Adriatic and the Alps, reached speeds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), forcing the closing of schools and nurseries in the towns of Nova Gorica, Ajdovscina and Vipava, the environment ministry said on its website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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