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European deep freeze serves up fun, frustrations and danger

Britain has experienced its coldest night for a quarter-of-a-century.

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A jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating the IJsselmeer inland sea and the Wadden Sea, in the Netherlands (Peter Dejong/AP)

A jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating the IJsselmeer inland sea and the Wadden Sea, in the Netherlands (Peter Dejong/AP)

A jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating the IJsselmeer inland sea and the Wadden Sea, in the Netherlands (Peter Dejong/AP)

The deep freeze gripping large parts of Europe is serving up both fun and frustrations, with heavy snow cutting power to thousands of homes in central Slovakia, while allowing some Dutch parents to pull their children to school on sledges instead of riding bicycles.

Britain experienced its coldest night for a quarter-of-a-century, with the temperature falling to minus 22.9C (minus 9.2F) in Braemar, northeast Scotland — the lowest recorded in the UK since 1995, according to the Met Office weather service.

Most of Britain has experienced days of sub-zero temperatures and snowfall in the wake of Storm Darcy. The cold snap froze the fountains in London’s Trafalgar Square and forced the temporary closure of some coronavirus vaccination sites.

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A thick layer of ice on a pier on the island of Ruegen in Germany (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

A thick layer of ice on a pier on the island of Ruegen in Germany (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

AP/PA Images

A thick layer of ice on a pier on the island of Ruegen in Germany (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

Icicles coating a jetty on the frozen inland Ijsselmeer Sea north of Amsterdam drew photographers, while those hanging from a house in the central German city of Erfurt attracted the attention of firefighters, who snapped them off.

In France, cold weather and ice alerts were in force for northern swathes of the country, as thermometers dipped well below freezing, making roads and pavements treacherous.

Among the coldest places was the riverfront city of Nancy, where the weather bureau reported minus 11C (12F) before dawn on Thursday.

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Firefighters break large icicles from the gutter of a house in the German city of Erfurt (Martin Schutt/dpa via AP)

Firefighters break large icicles from the gutter of a house in the German city of Erfurt (Martin Schutt/dpa via AP)

AP/PA Images

Firefighters break large icicles from the gutter of a house in the German city of Erfurt (Martin Schutt/dpa via AP)

Berlin police said a man rescued alive from a frozen pond in the German capital had subsequently died.

Police said firefighters pulled the 43-year-old man out of the water after he had been submerged for more than two hours and managed to revive him, but said he died in hospital on Wednesday evening.

The man and three others had made holes in the ice to go ice swimming.

Meanwhile, Greece has been enjoying spring-like weather with temperatures in the 20s Celsius range (68F and up).

But the southern nation is set to join the rest of Europe in the deep freeze in the coming days, with snow possible even in the capital, Athens.

In Albania, authorities evacuated several families, hundreds of sheep and thousands of chickens after the Buna River in the northwest burst its banks.

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