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cold snap


A heavy snowfall has hit Santiago de Chile causing disruption and blackouts, leaving thousands of residents shivering in the dark.

According to officials, about 250,000 people were affected by power cuts, mostly caused by snow-laden trees falling on cables.

Image source EFE

One death was reported – of a worker trying to clear ice – and two other people were injured by a fallen power line, Chilean media said.

According to meteorologists, it was the heaviest snowfall in the Chilean capital since 2007.

Douglas Tompkins Dies in Kayaking Accident in Chile

The snowfall came as Santiago and surrounding region were enduring an unusually cold snap.

As well as the power cuts, the weather has caused traffic disruption in the city and several sporting fixtures have been postponed.

The big freeze was not bad news for everyone, however, and thousands of children headed outdoors to build snowmen and throw snowballs.

Forecasters say lighter amounts of snow are still expected to fall.


At least 83 people have died in Ukraine from a cold spell that has been gripping the country, officials say.

Temperatures as low as -23C (-9F) and heavy snowfall this month have left the capital Kiev and most of the country under a thick frozen layer.

In western areas, vehicles were trapped in a three-day traffic jam stretching at one point about 20 km (12 miles).

The severe weather is also affecting neighboring Bulgaria and Romania, where six people have reportedly died.

Meteorologists warn that the cold snap in the region could continue and temperatures may drop even further.

On Friday, a senior official from Ukraine’s health ministry said that 83 people were now known to have died from the cold. Most of the victims had been found on the streets.

Volodymyr Yurchenko also said that more than 500 people were still being treated in hospitals across the country.

Nearly 100 towns and villages across the country remain without electricity, and emergency crews are continuing their work to try to restore power.

Army units have also been deployed to help clear the snow on major motorways.

Thousands of “heating shelters” have been set up where those in need – particularly the homeless and the elderly – can receive a hot meal and a warm place to sleep.

But the authorities have been criticized for being slow to react to the adverse weather.

Not everyone is taken care of, critics say, and a number of homeless people know nothing about the emergencies shelters.

“I sleep in the cellar of an abandoned building. I have a roof over my head and nothing else,” said Dima, a homeless man in Kiev.

Last winter, more than 100 people died from the cold in Ukraine.

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The cold snap that hit Europe in the last week has already claimed more than 260 lives across the continent.

Ukraine continues to be hardest hit, with another 9 deaths overnight. According to officials, 131 have died up to now, most of them homeless people, and 1,800 people have been taken to hospital.

Eight people died in Poland overnight, police say, bringing the toll to 53.

In Romania, another 6 people died overnight rising the death toll to 34, the Black Sea is still frozen on the coastline and dozens of roads are closed due the freezing rain that hit the country after the snowfalls.

The cold snap that hit Europe in the last week has already claimed more than 260 lives across the continent

The cold snap that hit Europe in the last week has already claimed more than 260 lives across the continent

Transport hubs have also been hit, with London’s Heathrow airport expecting to run only 50% of services on Sunday.

At least 4 people have died in France since the Arctic spell began and 43 departments in France have been put on alert for “exceptional” weather conditions.

The Italian capital Rome has seen its heaviest snowfall in more than 25 years, with runs on essential goods at supermarkets reported.

“The snow is beautiful, but let’s hope spring comes soon,” Pope Benedict XVI told the small number of pilgrims who braved the cold to go to St. Peter’s Square.

The Italian national rail operator is facing class action lawsuits after hundreds of people were trapped in trains due to the weather, AFP news agency reports.

Three helicopters were being used over eastern Bosnia on Sunday to deliver food and pick up people who needed evacuation.

A state of emergency is in force in the capital, Sarajevo, where snow has paralyzed the city.

In neighboring Serbia, 70,000 people remain cut off and 32 municipalities throughout the country have introduced emergency measures, according to senior emergency official Predrag Maric.

The Netherlands marked temperatures of -21.8C in the town of Lelystad on Saturday, the lowest recorded in the country for 27 years.

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At least 60 deaths are reported in eastern and central Europe due to freezing conditions caused by a cold snap over the last days.

Low temperatures, forcing some countries to deploy the army and set up emergency shelters, is set to continue to Friday, according to forecasters.

Most of the people – at least 30, mostly homeless – have died in Ukraine. Deaths have also been reported in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, among others.

Temperatures plunged to -20C (-4F) on Monday.

Health officials in Ukraine say nearly 24,000 people have sought refuge in some 1,590 shelters over the past three days.

More than 600 people have sought treatment for frostbite and hypothermia during this time.

The authorities say they are planning to set up 150 more centres, as heavy snow was forecast in the region on Wednesday.

The death toll in Poland over recent days rose to 21 on Tuesday. The Interior Affairs Ministry said some had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty heaters, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Poland had been having a relatively mild winter, until temperatures dropped last Friday from just below freezing to -26C (-15F).

Malgorzata Wozniak of Poland’s interior ministry said elderly people and the homeless were among the dead, AP reports.

Troops in Romania were deployed last week to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards

Troops in Romania were deployed last week to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards

Polish forecasters have warned that temperatures could fall further during the week, to below -20C during the day and -30C at night.

At least eight people have died in Romania and five in Bulgaria.

Troops in Romania were deployed last week to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards.

In Serbia, police reported that the snowy conditions had led to the deaths of a woman and two elderly men. Two other men, in their 70’s, are believed to be missing in the south of the country.

Reports say there were also deaths in Lithuania, Bosnia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.