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Europe weather death toll hits 40

The death toll has risen to at least 40 as the Arctic freeze holds its grip on Europe.

Road and rail travel was hard hit and ducks had to be rescued from frozen lakes.

South-eastern Europe, meanwhile, was spared the snow and ice - but was instead struggling with some of the worst flooding in a century.

Entire villages in Montenegro were submerged by the rising waters, with interior minister Ivan Brajovic describing the floods as "unprecedented."

With a dozen more deaths in Poland, the total number of people in Europe who have died of exposure in recent days has risen to at least 40.

It's "an early start to the winter because we are still in the autumn season," said Omar Baddour, a scientist with the World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva. "It's not very, very unusual, but it is an extreme winter spell that is going to last a few days."

Mr Baddour said that the cold comes from north-south winds pushing an Arctic chill over the continent, a phenomenon also seen at the start of last year's long and winter. Most of the time, winds blow from west to east over Europe. But he said it's too soon to say what the early winter weather - which usually sets in around Christmas - might herald for the continent this year.

In many parts of Europe, train services reported more heavy disruptions because of icy tracks, but air traffic was returning to normal in many places. The Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris was again operating normally, but many areas of France faced traffic problems because of the snow.

In Poland, police reported 12 deaths overnight, raising the death toll there to 30 over the past three days. Police were carrying out street patrols in hopes of getting drunks and homeless people into shelters since they make up the bulk of those who freeze to death each year.

Authorities have declared a state of emergency in three Balkan countries - Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro - and evacuated hundreds of people after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding along the Drina River - the worst in 104 years.

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