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.

  • Vegi - 2012-02-04 15:56

    I said it before and I repeat it now, the continent of Europe is cold and unforgiving. Before long it will be an unpopulated ice desert. People should be evacuated from that place to avoid more casualties. A warning to South Africans wanting to go abroad: Avoid Europe (rist of freezing to death), Asia (risk of execution) and the Americas (risk of dying in drug violence and Al Qaeda attacks).

      louis.langenhoven - 2012-02-04 17:12

      there is something wrong with the ground in your backyard...maybe fertilizer from europ? or are you smoking your vegi's instead of eating it?

      Sharon - 2012-02-04 17:49

      Think we must just start our own continent. If they can do it in Dubai, surely we can do it here. LOL

      michael.liebenberg - 2012-02-04 17:50

      Vegi, I have been living abroad for 9 years now. Still happy. Reasons for avoiding South Africa: Corruption Murder Rape Violence against women Political mayhem Oh, and idiots like yourself.

      Leon - 2012-02-04 18:19

      thanks for the advise vegi i'm in Afghanistan at this moment and its freezing. i;m going home i;m going home vegi will you have a welcome party for me at the airport p.s bringing a couple of taliban friends with in there case it;s getting to hot for them over here thanks my pel vegi

  • Vegi - 2012-02-04 15:57

    Australia and New Zealand are also to be avoided due to recent bloodbath involving South African expatriates there.

      susan.bezuidenhout - 2012-02-04 16:58

      To each their own I guess. I have been living in Switzerland for the last 3 years, and yes it is a bit cold at the moment but I promise you I take the cold any day over the violence,fear,corruption,inflation, potholes, toll roads, petrol prices, load shedding etc, etc I lived with in South Africa. I will always be South African in my heart but I am very thankful that the 'Ice dessert' of Europe is now my home.

      Vegi - 2012-02-04 18:29

      You will soon freeze to death for mocking my friendly advice.

      Vegi - 2012-02-04 18:31

      Those who mocked Noah's advice to board the Ferry also perished in the Last Great Flood.

  • Karien - 2012-02-04 16:51

    Wow, quite the world traveller - thank you for sharing your personal experiences (as clearly without actually having been there you would not know these things...)

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-02-04 17:17

    who was first off the ferry? Does it start with a C?

      Steward - 2012-02-04 21:05

      it only takes one instance to lose credibility forever

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