Europe cold snap sends ferry aground

2012-02-04 15:44
Rome - Hundreds of people were plucked to safety on Saturday after a ferry caught in a snow storm ran aground off Italy, as a vicious cold snap that has claimed over 250 lives across Europe refused to ease its clench.

Ukraine has suffered the heaviest toll of 122 deaths, including many people who froze to death in the streets, as temperatures plunged to as low as minus -38.1°C in parts of the continent.

Some airports were shut, flights and trains were delayed, and highways gridlocked as emergency services raced to clear the falling snow.

But as Europe huddled indoors for warmth, Russian gas giant Gazprom said it could not satisfy western Europe's demand for more energy.

In Italy, the Shardon ferry ran aground shortly after setting off from Civitavecchia port near Rome, causing panic among the 262 passengers who feared a repeat of a cruise ship tragedy in the area last month which killed 32 people.

All passengers safe

Coastguard spokesperson Carnine Albano said the accident, which tore a 25m hole in the ship's side above the waterline, was caused after the vessel was buffeted by a violent snow storm from the north-east.

All passengers were evacuated to safety and no injuries were reported.

Heavy snowfalls in Rome caused the capital better known for its warm sunshine to grind to a halt. Parts of the Venice lagoon also froze over.

In Poland, the death toll rose to 45 as temperatures reached -27°C in the north-east.

Snow fell in Bosnia for the second straight day, paralysing traffic, with one patient dying as the ambulance was unable to reach his village in the south of the country.

Public transport was disrupted in Sarajevo, with several tramlines blocked by snow since Friday evening.
Even Croatian and Serbian Presidents Ivo Josipovic and Boris Tadic were forced to postpone their departure from Friday's regional meeting, as they were blocked in the ski centre Jahorina, near Sarajevo.

Flight delays

"I can only leave the house if I dig a tunnel with a showel, my car has become a mountain of snow," IT worker Eldar Hajdarevic told AFP by phone.

In tiny Montenegro, villages in the mountainous north were cut off. Rescuers managed to evacuate 120 people, among them 31 school children from neighbouring Albania on a field trip, Interior Minister Ivan Brajovic said.

Both airports - in the capital Podgorica and the Adriatic port Tivat - were closed for traffic, while the authorities ordered a railway service to be halted fearing mountainous avalanches.

The Netherlands' Amsterdam-Schiphol airport meanwhile reported "dozens of delays and cancellations".

The cold snap has also killed people in the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, France as well as Austria and Greece.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    europe  |  weather
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Byrne: Israel Folau a 'freak'
LIVE: New Zealand 21-6 Tonga
England World Cup coaches barred
Lancaster comes out guns blazing

It is always easier to notice the faults in others rather than face our own. Focusing too much on the perfect and ideal more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.