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13 dead as temperatures plunge in central Europe

by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) Dec 1, 2010
Eight people have died of exposure in Poland, three in the Czech Republic and two in Lithuania after temperatures fell across Central Europe in recent days, officials said Wednesday.

"Eight people, aged 33 to 72, have died of exposure over the last 24 hours, most of them under the influence of alcohol," Poland's national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told AFP.

Overall in November, 15 people died from exposure in Poland, Sokolowski said.

Alcohol also played a role in the freezing deaths of three men aged 55 to 61 in the neighbouring Czech Republic over the last 24 hours, the Czech CTK news agency reported Wednesday.

Two homeless people, a man and a woman, also died of exposure in Lithuania over the weekend, local hospital services confirmed.

Heavy snow Wednesday wreaked havoc across the Czech Republic causing accidents on the D1 highway linking the capital Prague with the eastern regional city of Brno, the CTK reported.

Heavy snowfall earlier this week grounded flights and caused transport chaos on Poland's road and rail networks. Temperatures plunged Tuesday night to minus 33 degrees Celsius (minus 27.4 Fahrenheit) in the eastern city of Bialystok near Poland's eastern border with Belarus.

Authorities in Poland meanwhile put 3,000 prison inmates on standby to clear snow and ice with shovels. Seven hundred have already been mobilised, Justice Minister Krzysztof Kwiatkowski told local media.

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