[WATCH] The Beast from the East blankets Europe and causes shutdowns and chaos

Severe weather causes shutdowns and casualties all over Europe, with at least 55 deaths due to the freezing temperatures 

(Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/The Guardian)
(Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/The Guardian)

Severe weather continues to bring chaos to large parts of Europe, where at least 55 people have died amid freezing temperatures.

Several countries have faced disruptions caused by the snow and ice of the East of the Beast.

At least 21 of those who died are from Poland alone, the majority being homeless people sleeping on the street.

Two died in Italy, Serbia and Romania, while one death was recorded in both Slovenia and the Netherlands.

Severe disruptions to transport and public services around Europe, have also been recorded, with schools, road and rail services forced to close.

In Ireland, most transport and flights have been suspended where strong winds brought by a storm left some 24,000 homes and businesses without power.

The unusually cold spell brought by a Siberian weather system was being felt as far south as the Mediterranean.

The system has been given various nicknames - in the UK it is "the Beast from the East" while the Dutch call it the "Siberian bear" and Swedes the "snow cannon".

It met Storm Emma on Thursday, causing blizzards and strong winds in parts of England, Wales and Ireland.

Maltese airline, Air Malta also cancelled flights to Heathrow earlier this morning due to the extreme weather.

Snow also shut down Glasgow and Edinburgh airports in Scotland, and there were cancellations at Heathrow and other airports in Britain. Airports in the southern French cities of Montpellier and the Atlantic beach resort of Biarritz were also affected.

A rare snowfall blanketed Rome and Vienna on Monday, where residents quickly turned to Twitter to share images of the cities covered in snow.

Some rail services operated by Eurostar between London, Paris and Brussels were also axed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning over the extreme weather, saying cold temperatures increased the risks attributed to heart and lung disease.

“Those most at risk of cold-related illness include elderly people, children, and people who have chronic diseases or physical or mental limitations,” it said.

“Frequently, poor households are the hardest hit as the poor can least afford to adequately heat their homes. Homeless people, and refugees and migrants can be especially vulnerable. Their risk increases if they lack adequate shelter, proper clothing, food and medical care.”

Emergency shelters have been opened by authorities in many countries to cope with the needs of homeless citizens.

Swedish media reported that a woman who had left her home at an asylum centre with her daughter and son, aged eight and nine, was pronounced dead in the hospital after being found in a forest.

The woman was"poorly dressed" and her daughter was in intensive care. The son was found safe and sound Wednesday afternoon when temperatures in the region were about -10C.

Danish police said an 84-year-old woman with dementia became the second person to die in the country because of the cold weather. She left her home Wednesday evening and was found Thursday in a park in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, police said.

What’s in store for the coming days?

The conditions have already improved in some parts of Europe, and the temperatures are expected to rise over the next couple of days.

However, the cold weather is likely to continue in parts of the UK and Ireland.

The UK Met Office said conditions should begin returning to normal by mid-March.

In the meantime, Malta today saw a rise in temperature, rising up to 21 degrees during the day.  


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