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Europe tries to shield homeless from deep freeze
Precautions taken to protect homeless from Europe's deadly cold snap.
By The Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) ' Russia and Ukraine both took precautions on Friday to protect homeless people, scores of whom have frozen to death on the streets of Europe during its brutal cold snap.

As the death toll from the weeklong tragedy rose to at least 169 on Friday, Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the creation of feeding and medical-assistance facilities nationwide for the homeless.

Russia has not reported casualty figures from the cold snap, which has gripped a large swath of the continent from Russia to Serbia. But Russian Deputy Health Minister Maxim Topilin was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency on Friday as saying that 64 people died from the cold in all of January.



In Ukraine, the hardest hit country, health officials have told hospitals to stop discharging the hundreds of homeless patients after they are treated for hypothermia and frostbite. The goal is to prevent them from dying once they are released into temperatures as low as minus 32 Celsius (minus 26 Fahrenheit).

Authorities also have set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters.

Thirty-eight more fatalities were reported from frostbite and hypothermia in Ukraine on Friday, raising the nation's death toll to 101. Emergency officials have said many of the victims were homeless.

Of the Ukrainians who have died since the cold weather hit Jan. 27, 64 were found frozen on the streets, 11 died in hospitals and 26 in their homes, emergency officials said.

The weeklong snap ' Eastern Europe's worst in decades ' is causing power outages, frozen water pipes and the widespread closure of schools, nurseries, airports and bus routes.

Rome ' which usually spares Italians from cold winter weather ' experienced a rare snowfall on Friday, prompting officials to close the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors, to prevent tourists from slipping and falling.

Northern Italy also has been gripped by snow and ice that is disrupting train travel.

Temperatures in the Italian Alps have fallen as low as minus -22 C (minus 7 F).

In Poland, the Interior Ministry recorded eight more deaths on Friday and said two other people died of asphyxiation from carbon monoxide-spewing charcoal heaters.

In Serbia, where six people have died, blizzards gripped Belgrade, the capital, and Novi, the country's second-largest city, complicating efforts to rescue people trapped in their homes. In northern Serbia, hundreds of tons of fish in the Ecka lakes were in danger because the water was icing over. Dozens of people have been working nonstop to break the ice, using hammers and all kinds of tools, and sometimes even falling into the freezing water.

Neighboring Croatia and Montenegro also were hard hit.

In Croatia, some highways were closed and waters of the Adriatic Sea froze in some areas. Buses that travel from Zagreb, the capital, toward the coast have been canceled. In Montenegro, the airport in the capital, Podgorica, was closed due to heavy snow.

Daytime temperatures have been hovering around minus 18 (0 F) in Moscow, raising questions about how many people will brave the cold for the latest in a series of massive opposition rallies planned in the Russian capital on Saturday.

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Monica Scislowska in Warsaw, Jim Heintz in Moscow and Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this story.


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