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Main » 2012 » February » 4 » Cold snap theatens Europe
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Cold snap theatens Europe

At least 221 people have died during a cold snap in which temperatures have plummeted to -30C and below across eastern Europe, with Ukraine the hardest hit country. The week-long cold snap, eastern Europe's worst in decades, is causing power cuts, frozen water pipes and the widespread closure of schools, nurseries, airports and bus routes.

An energy crisis is looming as Russian gas supplies to some states dwindle by up to 30%. On Thursday the Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said it was sending as much gas as it could spare to Europe, and that Ukraine, whose pipelines carry Russian gas to the EU, must be taking more than its contracted share. Kiev has flatly denied doing so.

The European commission put its gas co-ordination committee on alert, but said it was not yet an emergency. The cold spell has killed 24 people in Romania, 17 in Poland, 11 in the Czech Republic, at least two in Slovakia and one each in France and Germany. In Russia, officials said more than 64 people died of hypothermia in January.

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