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Scores die in Ukraine cold spell

At least 85 people have died in Ukraine from a cold snap that has been gripping the country, officials say.
Last Modified: 24 Dec 2012 21:04
Snow and frost of minus 15 degrees Celsius were forecast in Ukraine by weather officials for several days [EPA]

More than 80 people have died in Ukraine from cold weather that has been gripping the country, local media reported.

An official from Ukraine's health ministry said on Monday that 85 people were known to have died from the cold. Most of the victims have been found on the streets.

Temperatures as low as minus 23 degrees Celsius and heavy snowfall this month have left the capital Kiev and most of the country under a thick frozen layer.

Residents reported that there was no place for homeless people in Kiev to hide from the weather.

'Heating shelters'
 
"If those [frozen] are homeless, then it's probably true that they've got nowhere to go in such conditions to warm up," said a woman who gave her name as Tatiana.

"If there would be no such [heating shelter] stations, if there would be nothing like that ... we would simply, and I'll put it bluntly, we would die out, all of us"

- Andrei,
Homeless man from Kiev

More than 500 people were being treated in hospitals across the country. In the western part of the country, vehicles were trapped in a three-day traffic jam stretching at one point about 20km.

Nearly 100 towns and villages across the country remain without electricity. Army units have also been deployed to help clear the snow on major motorways.

While some people prefer to stay in warm home, some are not ready to give up their hobbies. A fisherman, Stanislav, said it was necessary simply to put lots of warm clothes on.

"Well, fishers, as you see, they are like penguins glued to the hole in ice and that's it, that's why they put warm clothes on," he said.

Some 1,500 "heating shelters" have reportedly been set up where the homeless and the elderly can get a hot meal and a warm place to sleep.

"If there would be no such stations, if there would be nothing like that ... we would simply, and I'll put it bluntly, we would die out, all of us," said Andrei, a homeless man from Kiev.

Last week the health ministry said 190 people have sought medical help for hypothermia, and 162 had been hospitalised. Last winter, more than 100 people died from the cold in Ukraine.

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Source:
Agencies
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