by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Feb 9, 2012
Italy braced for another wave of freezing weather Thursday, even as soldiers worked to free villages trapped in three metres of snow and with the death toll from the cold snap already at 43.
"The cold wave from the Arctic will hit northeast Italy first," said Franco Gabrielli, the head of the civil protection agency who has been put in charge of dealing with the weather emergency.
"Then it will start moving down."
Forecasts said freezing winds were set to pick up later Thursday and bring more snow on Friday and Saturday to Rome. The normally mild-weathered Italian capital is still recovering from its biggest snowfall in decades.
Local authorities in Rome have begun distributing 4,000 spades for local residents. They have boosted the city's stocks of salt to 1,000 tons and have dozens of snow ploughs at the ready after criticism of previous preparations.
Cars in Rome will have to travel with snow chains on Friday and Saturday.
Several people have died of heart attacks while digging snow and there have been cases of truckers freezing to death after being snowed in during traffic.
Hundreds of soldiers meanwhile were deployed in the region of Basilicata in southern Italy to dig out snowed-in villages near the town of Melfi.
Burst pipes also caused flooding in metro stations and a hospital in Turin.
The economic development ministry said the activation of oil-fired power stations and cutting supplies to industrial clients to make up for a decline in gas supplies from Russia had helped restore "balance" in the system.
It said it would begin restoring full supplies to all clients, domestic and industrial from Friday, as fuel supplies from Russia increased.
Croatian mayor blames price of boots for cold snap injuries
The city's hospital ran through a two-year supply of plaster in five days, the authorities said Thursday, after snow and ice brought chaos to the region.
"We are not used to such weather conditions," the head of Split's main hospital surgery clinic Vedran Radonic told AFP.
Split's colourful mayor Zeljko Kerum blamed high value-added taxes (VAT) which he said was keeping people from buying proper winter boots.
"The problem is that people got hurt because they did not buy those boots, those (winter) tires and snow chains as 60-percent of the price (of those items) goes to the state" through VAT and other taxes, Kerum told reporters.
But his remarks provoked outrage as many of Splits' inhabitants accuse the local authorities of not having reacted adequately to the cold snap, which brought the city to a standstill.
Split, Croatia's second largest city situated on the Adriatic coast, usually enjoys mild Mediterranean winters.
But since last Friday, when the town was hit by a cold snap, more than 700 patients have been admitted to hospital for treatment of injuries such as bone fractures caused by falls on snow and ice, he said.
Heavy snow accompanied by stormy winds created ice on the streets of Split, some 400 kilometres (248 miles) south of Zagreb, including its famous palm lined seaside promenade, for the first time in decades.
It's A White Out at TerraDaily.com
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Aid sent by helicopter as thousands cut off in Europe
Sarajevo (AFP) Feb 8, 2012
Helicopters ferried food and medicine to iced-in villagers Wednesday as Europe's 12-day-old cold snap tightened its frigid grip on the continent, where more than 400 have died as a result. Eastern countries such as Poland and Ukraine account for more than half of the death toll, and dozens more have succumbed to the weather's secondary effects, such as asphyxiation due to shoddy heating. ... read more