Tens of deaths, road, rail and air travel disruptions, schools being closed and problems with the energy supply are some of the consequences of the extreme weather that has swept across Europe, including Romania
A glacial weather front coming down from Scandinavia struck Europe in recent days, causing the death of tens of people, including in Romania. Freezing weather conditions were reported in France, Italy, France and Germany, but it was central and eastern Europe that saw the lowest temperatures in the last 50 years.
A number of countries have been confronted with disruptions of travel and the electricity supply. Poland has had the largest number of victims. Montenegro has issued a red code alert for cold. Kosovo has seen the lowest temperatures since 1963. In Albania, the authorities have used helicopters to distribute aid to areas cut off by the snow.
Heavy snowfalls have also been reported in the Republic of Moldova, where schools have suspended classes and where several customs check points on the border with Ukraine have been closed. In northern and north-eastern Bulgaria, snow piles measure more than 1 and a half metres, many roads and motorways have been closed and more than 100 localities have been left without electricity.
Moscow had its coldest Christmas in the last 120 years, with temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees Celsius. Turkey has also had a harsh winter, with Istanbul being struck by the biggest snowstorm in the last 7 years. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled and the Bosphorus Strait has been closed to traffic.
Thousands of migrants are in danger of dying of cold especially in Greece and Serbia, say humanitarian organisations which call on European governments to take measures to prevent the loss of life. Romania has also had its share of harsh winter, especially in the south and east. An orange code alert for cold has been in place for almost the entire country. In the centre, temperatures have dropped to minus 32 degrees Celsius, while the capital Bucharest has seen minus 21 degrees.
Schools have been closed in Bucharest and other counties because of the cold and two waves of blizzards. Road, rail and air travel has been seriously disrupted. Hundreds of vehicles have been stuck in the snow and many trains and flights have been cancelled or delayed by as much as a few hours. A record high consumption of natural gas and electricity has been reported. The situation on the Danube is particularly worrying, as the river’s levels have dropped dramatically.
The authorities in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, three of the countries crossed by the Danube, have temporarily banned shipping on certain segments of the river, because the Danube is freezing and the floating ice is considered a threat to the ships. According to weather forecasts for Romania, after a few days of above-zero temperatures, more blizzards are again expected next week.