13 Jan 2010

Hundreds reportedly killed as cold snap hits India

8:34 am on 13 January 2010

Hundreds of people are reported to have died as a result of cold weather in northern India in the first few days of this year.

Every year people sleeping out in the open die because of the cold, but this winter is proving particularly harsh.

The BBC reports it may not be as cold in most of India as it is in most of Europe, but the consequences have been devastating.

According to state-run radio, more than 300 people have died in the current cold snap as temperatures drop to near freezing.

Tens of millions of Indians are either homeless or live in the most basic accommodation possible and are not equipped to deal with temperatures which are several degrees lower than is normal for this time of year.

Motorists freed in Germany

Freezing weather conditions have caused transport havoc and deaths across Europe since last week.

In north-east Germany, 160 motorists who had been trapped for hours in two-metre snow drifts have been rescued.

They had become trapped on Sunday when blizzard conditions brought the A20 motorway to a standstill, the BBC reports.

The snow, which has blanketed the country for days, blocked off villages and clogged road links to France. Many people were stranded at airports as weekend flights were cancelled, and rail and ferry services were cut.

Although conditions appeared to be easing on Monday, forecasters have warned of more snowfall.

In the United Kingdom, which is suffering its worst winter for decades, thousands of tonnes of emergency gritting salt were sent to the worst affected areas.

In Poland, where 140 people have frozen to death in recent weeks, some 80,000 people were left without electricity as snow damaged power lines at the weekend.

About 3,000 homes in south-eastern France were without power for a second day on Sunday.

Three people died in the Netherlands, four in Belgium and four in the Czech Republic after traffic accidents caused by icy roads over the weekend.