Europe cold snap toll rises to 260; ferry sinks in snow storm
ROME HUNDREDS of people were plucked to safety on Saturday after a ferry caught in a snow storm hit a breakwater off Italy, as a vicious cold snap that has claimed over 260 lives across Europe maintained its grip.
Ukraine has suffered the heaviest toll of 122 deaths, including many people who froze to death in the streets, as temperatures plunged to as low as minus 38.1 degrees Celsius (minus 36.5 Fahrenheit) in parts of the continent.
Airports were shut, flights and trains delayed, and highways gridlocked as emergency services raced to clear the falling snow.
But as Europe huddled indoors for warmth, Russian gas giant Gazprom said it could not satisfy western Europe’s demand for more energy.
In Italy, the ferry Sharden hit a mole shortly after setting off from the port of Civitavecchia near Rome, causing panic among the 262 passengers who feared a repeat of a cruise ship tragedy in the area last month which killed 32 people.
All passengers were evacuated to safety and no injuries were reported.
The heaviest snowfall in 27 years in Rome caused the capital better known for its warm sunshine to grind to a halt, with taxis and buses unable to navigate through the icy streets without snow chains.
Parts of the Venice lagoon also froze over.
A 46-year-old woman died in Avellino, near Naples in southern Italy, after a greenhouse roof collapsed on top of her with the weight of snow and the ambulance failed to get through the blocked roads to her in time.
In Poland, the death toll rose to 45 as temperatures reached minus 27 Celsius in the north-east. In Romania, four more victims were found, bringing the number of fatalities in the country to 28.
The cold snap has also killed people in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, France, Austria and Greece.
Snow fell in Bosnia for the second straight day, paralysing traffic, with one patient dying as the ambulance was unable to reach his village in the south of the country.