BUCHAREST, Romania - More than 650 people have died during a record-breaking cold snap in Eastern Europe, authorities said yesterday, as officials in the Czech Republic attributed two massive car crashes to blinding snow.
Since the end of January, the region has been pummeled by the deep freeze, which has brought the heaviest blizzards in recent memory. Thousands have been trapped in freezing homes and in villages by walls of snow and unpassable roads, and officials have struggled to reach out to the vulnerable with emergency food airlifts.
Authorities in Russia and Ukraine alone reported yesterday that more than 300 people have died in the bitter cold. In Poland, 107 have died.
About 100 damaged cars blocked a major highway in the Czech Republic connecting the capital, Prague, with the eastern part of the country and Slovakia.
Seven people have died in Romania in the past 24 hours, bringing the total there to 86 deaths. In Lithuania, there have been 23 deaths.
Romanian farmers - faced with up to 15 feet of snow - are concerned about their sheep, goats, horses, and cows. One farmer said he dug his pigs out of the snow and brought them into his home.