At least 221 people have died during a cold snap in which temperatures have plummeted to -30C and below across eastern Europe, with Ukraine the hardest hit country.
The cold has killed 101 people in Ukraine, many of whom lived on the streets. Health officials have ordered hospitals to stop discharging homeless patients after they are treated for hypothermia and frostbite, while authorities have set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters to help people survive.
The week-long cold snap, eastern Europe's worst in decades, is causing power cuts, frozen water pipes and the widespread closure of schools, nurseries, airports and bus routes.
An energy crisis is looming as Russian gas supplies to some states dwindle by up to 30%. Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Italy are those worst affected.
On Thursday the Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said it was sending as much gas as it could spare to Europe, and that Ukraine, whose pipelines carry Russian gas to the EU, must be taking more than its contracted share. Kiev has flatly denied doing so.
The European commission put its gas co-ordination committee on alert, but said it was not yet an emergency.
The cold spell has killed 24 people in Romania, 17 in Poland, 11 in the Czech Republic, at least two in Slovakia and one each in France and Germany. In Russia, officials said more than 64 people died of hypothermia in January.
In Moscow, the mercury remained below -15C for a third week running. The coldest temperatures were recorded in the isolated region of Kamchatka, where -48C lows are forecast for the weekend.
Although long used to harsh conditions, Russians have been enduring temperatures 7C to 12C below average. Desperate to keep warm, many have turned to space heaters, which have been blamed for a 30% rise in house fires since the harsh weather set in last month.
Activists preparing for an anti-Kremlin demonstration on Saturday, urged protesters to stay warm by donning thermal underwear and thick mittens instead of gloves as they prepared to brave -18C weather. Russia's chief health official, Gennady Onischenko, went further, saying: "If the weather report turns out to be true, then I categorically suggest not taking part in these protests.
"No tea or warm drinks will save you - and can even play a negative role."
Rome experienced a rare snowfall on Friday, prompting officials to close the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors, to prevent tourists from slipping and falling. Northern Italy has been gripped by snow and ice that is disrupting train travel. Temperatures in the Italian Alps have fallen as low as -22C.
In Poland, the interior ministry recorded eight more deaths on Friday and said two other people died of asphyxiation from carbon monoxide-spewing charcoal heaters.
An 82-year-old man was found dead in woods in north-east France on Friday. Paramedics said he was found in his pyjamas and that he suffered from Alzheimer's.
In Serbia, blizzards gripped Belgrade, the capital, and Novi, the country's second largest city, complicating efforts to rescue people trapped in their homes. In northern Serbia, hundreds of tonnes of fish in the Ecka lakes were in danger because the water was icing over. Dozens of people have been working non-stop to break the ice, sometimes falling into the freezing water.
In Croatia, some roads were closed and the waters of the Adriatic Sea froze in some areas. Buses that travel from Zagreb, the capital, towards the coast were cancelled. In Montenegro, the airport in the capital, Podgorica, was closed due to heavy snow.
Headlines Newsview all
Rate this article
For Cissy Houston and her granddaughter Bobbi Kristina, life after Whitney Houston is not right, but it's okay. The relatives of the deceased pop icon, who ... Full story