(Updates with death count in ninth paragraph, Ukrainian forecast in 13th paragraph.)
Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Snowfall and chilling temperatures eased in eastern Europe, giving authorities a chance to dig out from a cold front that killed hundreds of people in the region and prepare for more freezing in the coming days.
Temperatures in Warsaw today climbed to minus 8 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest in a week, while sunlight made sub-zero temperatures more bearable in Hungary and Slovakia. Still, a new wave of extreme weather may force further traffic and business disruptions in countries such as Croatia on the Adriatic coastline, meteorologists said.
“There’s a bit of respite from the snow, with temperatures still falling to -22 C in eastern Croatia,” said Kristijan Bozarov from Croatia’s meteorological association Crometeo. “Today we should try to clean up as much as possible and prepare for a new snowstorm tomorrow.”
Eastern Europe has been hit by cold Siberian air from the north, while the southern Balkans countries have suffered from above-normal snowfall. Demand for electricity and natural gas surged across the region, while Russia’s OAO Gazprom, the main supplier of the commodity, said supplies can’t keep up with elevated demand.
Supply of natural gas and electricity was cut off in parts of Azeri capital, where temperatures dropped to minus 11, the lowest since 1969.
Traffic on the Danube river remained disrupted by ice floes, forcing authorities in Romania and Serbia to call ice breakers to create a passage to the Black Sea. Some roads in Romania and Croatia were also closed.
Bulgaria’s schools will remain closed this week as most of the roads and railways are blocked by snowdrifts, while freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall are hampering recovery work from floods in southern Bulgaria along the border with with Turkey and Greece. Some 200 towns and villages in north East and South of the country are without electricity.
The government declared a day of mourning today for the eight people who died after a dam burst near the southern city of Harmanly on Feb. 6 destroying 200 houses and hundreds of livestock. Four people died of the cold in the country in the past two days, police said.
The Romanian Health Ministry reported three cold-related deaths overnight, bringing the toll to 41 this year. The number of casualties in Serbia rose to 12, after one person died in Belgrade being hit by an icicle fallen for a roof an a 12-floor building.
In Ukraine, heavy snowfall and strong wind cut electricity supplies to 134 villages and towns in the Southern part of the country, while snow caused traffic jams as long as 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) in Crimea, on the Black Sea coast.
The Ukrainian government increased the number of shelters to 3,361 across the country, taking in more than 100,000 people yesterday as temperatures plunged to minus 25 degrees Celsius at night, according to the Ministry for Emergency Situations.
“I’m chilled to the bone, and am not in a mood to do anything,” said Mariya Andriichuk, 28, a photographer and designer in Kiev. The capital city’s transport system is suffering from delays, making travel to work extend past one hour in some quarters.
The national weather center forecasts temperatures will drop to minus 31 degrees in western and central Ukraine from Feb. 11 and to minus 19 in the Crimea peninsula.
Temperatures in some parts of the Czech Republic may fall below the 1927 record low of minus 42.2 degrees at night this weekend, according to the Czech Hydro Meteorological Institute.
The freeze will then gradually loosen its grip and temperatures may climb to around zero in the middle of next week, said Petr Dvorak, a spokesman for the institute.
--With assistance from Edith Balazs in Budapest, Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev, Katya Andrusz in Warsaw, Lenka Ponikelska in Prague, Misha Savic in Belgrade, Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia and Zulfugar Agayev in Baku. Editor: James M. Gomez
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