Europe under deep-freeze spell, 50 dead in a week
Nearly 50 people have died in a cold spell that has gripped Europe since a week. Heavy snowfall and icy blizzards are expected to continue. Transport networks are down, flight movement disrupted, schools shut and daily life thrown out of gear. Among the latest deaths is a man who fell into a lake in London, and a Dutch skater who plunged through cracked ice.
The 'Beast from the East' has taken over Europe
The Siberian cold front (also "Beast from the East," "Siberian bear" or "snow cannon") has brought snow and winds across the region. Temperatures fell below -20C in many places, dropping to as low as -36C in Glattalp. Belgium and Switzerland have witnessed their coldest nights of the winter. British weathermen say chilly conditions are likely to continue into the weekend.
Schools shut, transportation down, rescue operations underway
Emergency officials in Scotland and France struggled to rescue people buried under feet of snow. Schools were shut down in Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, Britain, Italy and Portugal. In Ireland, frantic locals rushed to hoard bread and milk as they prepared for the "heaviest snowfall in decades." The met department issued its highest weather warning. There was red alert in Herault after a "major" snowfall.
The employees with the 'coldest job in Austria'
Ludwig Rasser and Norbert Daxbacher, employees at the Sonnblick weather station (3,109m above sea level), have been credited with having the "coldest job in Austria"- they have to head out to measure temperature thrice daily. Each time takes an hour in temperatures of - 32C
Homeless people most at risk, authorities rush to help
Deaths have been reported from Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia, France, Romania, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain. Most of the victims are homeless. Cities have been rushing to set up emergency shelters. In Paris, 50 lawmakers stood outside yesterday night to protest the "denial of dignity" to the homeless. In Calais, authorities have launched shelters for migrants camping near the coast.