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Freezing weather hits much of Europe, from Poland to Turkey

Deep freeze hits Europe

Extreme cold has hit large parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures cracking railroad tracks in Poland, snow blanketing the Turkish city of Istanbul, and smog spiking as coal is burned to generate heat.

In Switzerland, a skier who had been buried by an avalanche on the weekend died in a hospital of his injuries, authorities said Monday.

The country had issued avalanche warnings several days earlier after heavy snowfall hit various regions. Officials said the skier and his two companions were buried by an avalanche while they were skiing off marked trails in the Gstaad area on Sunday afternoon.

One man was able to free himself from the snow and then extricate one of the others, but the third man could only be found by rescue crews who arrived later on the scene. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and died a short time later, authorities said.

Temperatures dropped to -28 C in some Polish areas overnight, the coldest night in 11 years. Many trains were delayed on Monday after tracks at two Warsaw railway stations cracked.

Hand-in-hand with the cold came a spike in smog in Warsaw and other parts of Poland, as the cold prompted an increase in burning coal for heat. Air pollution levels were so high in Warsaw that city officials urged people to remain indoors.

Just across Poland's southwestern border, the Czech Republic experienced the coldest night this year with temperatures dropping below -20 C in many places.

The lowest temperature, -27 C, was recorded Monday in Orlicke Zahori, a mountainous village 160 kilometres east of Prague and near the Polish border, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

The freezing weather was expected to ease and be replaced by heavy snowfall in the northeastern Czech Republic, the institute said.

Wintry weather and freezing temperatures have also been reported throughout the Balkans in the past days, which has created problems with power supplies in some parts of Serbia and brought some snow even to Croatia’s Adriatic Sea islands.

In Istanbul, traffic was brought to a halt by the layer of snow covering the city, with cars stalled or skidding on the roads.

In Germany, fresh snow, slippery roads and fallen trees led to several car accidents on Sunday and overnight, the dpa news agency reported. A driver died in southwestern Germany after his car shot over a mound of snow.



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