Ice frosted houses in Poland - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Ice frosted houses in Poland

LONDON (CNN) -- Eastern and central Europe continue to shiver under a blanket of heavy snow Friday, with more deaths reported after bitter cold overnight temperatures. 

Ukraine is probably the worst affected, with Poland, Romania, Serbia and Belarus also suffering much more severe winter conditions than usual. 

Thirty-eight people have died of hypothermia in Ukraine over the past 24 hours, according to the state-run news agency Ukrinform, citing government ministries. 

The latest deaths take the total number killed in Ukraine in the cold spell that started January 27 to 101, the news agency reported.

Twenty-nine people had died in Poland as of Thursday, according to the publicly funded Polish Radio's news website.

Other cold-related deaths have been reported in Serbia, Romania and elsewhere.

Joe Lowry, spokesman for the International Red Cross Europe Zone, said many people across the region are in urgent need of help.

"If 163 people have frozen to death on the European streets, it is a disaster," he told CNN.

The homeless and elderly are among the most vulnerable, Lowry said, as well as those who often find themselves on the margins of society, such as alcoholics or people with mental health issues.

He said the Red Cross is helping people by providing warm clothing, boots, hot drinks and food, as well as shelter in heated tents and moral support. Local authorities must also react effectively to the crisis to save lives, he said.  

The sudden start to the bitter cold weather after what had been a mild winter for some parts of Eastern Europe caught many people unaware, Lowry said. 

He added, "The human body is not designed to withstand temperatures of -32 degrees Celsius (-25.6 degrees Fahrenheit). If we are not well nourished, if you don't have the right clothes to wear, if you don't have shelter, you cannot possibly stand them for long." 

Meteorologist Mari Ramos said the challenge now faced by many people is that the cold spell is lasting so long.

The first reports of heavy snow came from Romania on January 26, Ramos said. Now, although temperatures are becoming more moderate, the snowfall will be very heavy, particularly for Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary and Romania. Some areas could get an additional half meter (20 inches) of snow.

A state of emergency has now been declared in 23 municipalities in Serbia because of the snow, the state-run news agency Tanjug reported Friday.

Six people have died from the cold in Serbia, and one is missing and presumed dead, the news agency Tanjug quoted emergencies official Predrag Maric, of the country's interior ministry, as saying Thursday.

About 11,500 people have been cut off from the world by heavy snowfall, Maric told the agency.  

The bitterly cold weather has also extended further west across Europe and beyond.

It's been snowing in central Italy for almost a week and there is more forecast for the next two days, Ramos said.

Ferrari's plans to unveil a new car for the 2012 Formula One season Friday were dashed by heavy snowfall at the Italian team's Maranello factory.

The legendary brand had planned to showcase the new car, which they hope will win them a first drivers' championship since 2007.

There are reports of snowfalls in Algeria and more in the forecast for the weekend.

For Britain, Spain and France, the worst of the cold is generally over, but there is a chance of snow in London Sunday morning, Ramos said.  

For most, the temperatures are moderating -- but it will still be cold and very snowy. Bucharest, for example, has had lows below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) for almost a week, but will see lows of minus 6 Celsius by Saturday and minus 2 Celsius by Sunday.

Residents of the Romanian capital may see temperatures climb to 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) for the daytime high by Sunday afternoon, Ramos added.

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