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article imageHomeless and migrants threatened as deep freeze grips Europe

By Karen Graham     Jan 8, 2017 in Environment
Blizzards and icy temperatures in Europe have left over 20 people dead and even blanketed the Greek islands and southern Italy in snow, prompting Pope Francis to draw attention to the homeless suffering in the freezing cold.
The polar air is expected to continue through the weekend, according to the BBC, with temperatures hovering below 0 degrees Celsius. The extreme weather has left many villages cut-off, caused power and water outages, grounded flights and led to a number of accidents on the roads.
According to France24, ten of the latest deaths occurred in Poland where temperatures reached -14 degrees Celsius (seven degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday. Spokeswoman Bozena Wysocka from the Polish government center for security (RCB) said, "Seven people died on Friday in what was the deadliest day this winter, and we recorded three other victims the previous day."
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In Italy, ferries and flights have been canceled over the past 48 hours and schools in the South will be closed on Monday. The cold has been responsible for at least seven deaths, including five homeless people, two of them Polish nationals. Heavy snowfall in central and southeastern Italy shut down airports in Bari and Brindisi as well as in Sicily on Saturday.
In the Czech capital of Prague, emergency services reported three deaths from the cold overnight, two homeless people, and a parking lot guard. In Bulgaria on Friday, villagers found the bodies of two Iraqi immigrants in a mountain forest in the southeast of the country near its border with Turkey, reports the Associated Press.
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In Serbia, authorities banned river travel on Sunday on its stretch of the Danube River because of ice and strong wind. In the capital, Belgrade, several hundred men, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, are living in an abandoned warehouse near the city's bus station.
Aid groups have passed out heaters, blankets, clothes, and food in an attempt to keep them warm. "We are all working together to help these people," Mirjana Milenkovski, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency, said. Many men in the warehouse are already sick because of the extreme cold.
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"The next few days are critical, and for sure the health condition of these people is worsening," said Stephane Moissaing, MSF Head of Mission in Serbia.
And in the normally milder Greek Islands, where some are home to thousands of immigrants, authorities have moved many to temporary shelters or heated tents. The temperature in Athens on Saturday only reached 0 degrees Celsius and many of the islands are blanketed in a layer of snow. There are more than 60,000 mainly Syrian refugees in Greece.
More about deep freeze, Europe, 23 deaths, power and water outages, Migrants
 
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