UK Top News

Poland cold weather death toll climbs to 52

People walk on the main street in the Old Town during heavy snowfall in Gdansk, northern Poland December 2, 2010. REUTERS/Renata Dabrowska/Agencja Gazeta

WARSAW (Reuters) - Five Poles died from exposure to cold overnight, bringing the death toll to 52 since the start of the cold weather season last month, the Government Security Centre said Sunday.

A spokesman for the centre said 37 people had died of exposure to cold so far in the first five days of December. Fifteen died in November.

Most of the victims were homeless seeking shelter in unheated abandoned buildings or garden sheds, and many were under the influence of alcohol.

So far this season the coldest weather was recorded in north-eastern Poland’s Bialystok area bordering Lithuania and Belarus, where air temperatures reached minus 27 degrees Celsius and ground temperatures were as low as minus 32.

Heavy snow and sub-freezing temperatures have disrupted road and rail traffic across the country and caused the closure of some schools and government institutions.

Reporting and writing by Rob Strybel; Editing by Peter Graff