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Cold snap claims nearly 200 lives in Russia, Eastern Europe

Moscow, Dec 25 (): A cruel cold snap across Eastern Europe and Russia has claimed about 220 lives this month, officials figures released stated yesterday. The freeze had also left 371 people in hospital.

Temperatures in Russia dropped down drastically by 10-15 degrees below average, with -50C (-58F) recorded in Siberian areas. At least 88 deaths have been reported in Siberia.

The gripping severe cold in Ukraine has killed at least 83 people, BBC reported. In capital Kiev, this month the temperatures went down as low as minus 23 degrees Celsius with heavy snowfall and most of the places were under thick frozen layer.

Ukraine officials have been battling heavy snowfall for weeks. Among the 83 dead, 57 victims were found on the street. The hardest-hit people were the homeless. Last winter, more than 100 people died from the cold in Ukraine.

In the western part of the country, the vehicles were immovable due to heavy snow fall and were trapped in a three-day traffic jam, which stretched long to about 20 km. The severe weather is also affecting neighbouring Romania and Bulgaria, where reports said six people died due to severe cold.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the temperatures hovered around zero on Friday. The Czech police reported that in the recent weeks, several people had died of exposure to severe cold, but no overall statistics were available for the country.

In Latvia, the temperatures reached -14 celsius three days back. In the capital Riga, the government authorities decided to lower the public transport prices to encourage the people to leave their cars at home and prevent traffic jams and crashes. On Christmas Eve temperatures in Latvia are expected to drop to minus 28 Celsius, a record low.

This “abnormal” frost would last till Christmas due to persistent anticyclone, forecasters said.