International News

Europe cold snap death toll exceeds 60 amid disrupted daily life

The death toll from an unusually Siberian cold front in Europe has exceeded 60 across the continent over the past week amid massive disruption of daily life.
The freezing weather claimed the lives of 23 in Poland, seven in Slovakia, six in the Czech Republic and five each in Lithuania and France. Other deaths tolls were also reported on Friday from Spain, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
The cold snap also led to forced closure of airports in Scotland, Switzerland, France, and Ireland. It has also caused massive transport disruption, leaving hundreds of drivers stranded on snowy highways across the continent.
Geneva’s busy international airport closed over a three-hour period early Thursday, but it reopened several hours later after extensive de-icing of its runway.
The arctic weather coming from Siberia, which is expected to persist for another two weeks, has hit the Baltic region the hardest, pushing temperatures down to minus 29 degrees Celsius, with Poland becoming the worst hit with its highest number of fatalities.
Heavy blizzards, 100-kph winds, freezing rain, and thunderstorms hit Ireland, southwestern England, and Wales on Thursday with deep pockets of snow.
The blizzards forced British Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel her trip to the northeastern city of Newcastle to deliver a speech on Brexit.
The Irish government warned people not to leave their home. The Irish stock exchange shut down at midday and stayed closed all day Friday.
In southern France, about 2,000 cars were blocked on highways in the Herault region due to heavy snow.
The World Health Organization has warned that vulnerable people across Europe, including the elderly, children, and those with chronic diseases or disabilities are particularly at risk due to the existing harsh weather conditions.