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Big freeze death toll tops 600

More than 600 people have now died during a record-breaking cold snap in Eastern Europe.

Since the end of January the region has been in a deep freeze, which has brought the heaviest blizzards in recent memory. Tens of thousands have been trapped in often-freezing homes and villages by walls of snow and unpassable roads, and officials have struggled to reach out to the vulnerable with emergency food airlifts.

After a massive pile-up in a blizzard about 100 damaged cars blocked a major road in the Czech Republic connecting the capital, Prague, with the eastern part of the country and Slovakia.

Russia said 205 people have died this year in the cold, while Ukraine has had 112 cold fatalities and Poland had 107. Seven people have died in Romania in the past 24 hours, bringing the total there to 86 deaths. Deaths were also reported in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia.

In hard-hit Romania, 23,000 people remain isolated in 225 eastern communities where more than a week of heavy snow has blocked roads and wreaked havoc on the rail network. Residents were worried that their houses could collapse under the heavy snow as rescuers struggled to bring them food, water, medicine and wood.

A flight instructor flew his homemade powered parachute - a motorised vehicle that flies at low altitude - making several 45 minute-trips to deliver bread and canned food to people who have been cut off for days.

A five-month-old girl with severe pneumonia was taken to a hospital early Wednesday by sled and an army vehicle after authorities struggled for six hours to reach her.

Romanian farmers - faced with up to 15 feet of snow in some areas this week - are concerned about their sheep, goats, horses and cows. One farmer said he dug his pigs out of the snow and brought them into his home.


From Belfast Telegraph