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Wednesday
Feb012012

Deep Freeze Grips Europe, Killing 80

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The severe cold weather currently gripping Eastern Europe has now spread to Italy and as far south as Turkey. As many as 80 people have died, mainly in Ukraine and Poland, as the death freeze settles over the continent.

Dan Britton, a press officer at Britain’s Met Office, told ABC News the cold weather stems from, “a large area of high pressure sitting over Eastern Europe, which has brought about cold temperatures over quite a large area.”

The Ukraine has suffered the most fatalities as emergency ministries confirmed 43 people had perished in minus-28 degree temperatures.

While hospitals in Ukraine have treated more than 600 people for frostbite and pneumonia, many of the dead were homeless people who were unable to find shelter at night.

As Poland experienced minus-22 degree conditions, seven more deaths have been confirmed. Five were said to be homeless people.

Several people have also died in the Baltic states -- the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, and Bulgaria -- where until now temperatures had been well above normal for midwinter.

The heavy snow has caused transport chaos across Europe.

Forecasters have confirmed that this area of high pressure has come from Siberia.

“These kind of weather conditions occur every 20 to 30 years, last time in 1986 and 1956,” Jurik Muller of the German Meteorological Service said.

With snow now falling in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, the weather is likely to continue throughout the weekend.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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