Poland counts cost of big freeze

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Poland counts cost of big freeze

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Since Monday 10 more people have died of the cold in Poland, bringing the number to nearly 80 this month.

Operations to persuade the homeless to take shelter during this exceptional snowy period are underway and more sub 20-below temperatures are expected in the days to come.

In the UK the transport chaos is such thousands have needed to find beds where they can, like in furniture stores, when they have been stranded.

“The people in Boston get this much snow and we deal with it. The Brits get this much snow and it’s like ‘Oh my God’, you know?” said a transatlantic traveller.

The cold snap has really exposed how fragile Europe’s transport networks are, especially at times of poor weather and peak demand. The problem is widespread, from the UK through France and Spain to Germany and Italy.

In the former it is plane and train travel that has been severely disrupted:

“We were already on the runway and then they took us back out of the plane and said ‘you can go into the terminal and sleep there, there are beds there.’ However there were only 30 beds for 300 people. There was no-one to take care of pregnant women, the elderly or women with children,” said one young German woman.

Milan’s airports and stations have become waiting rooms for travellers trying to escape or reach destinations in the north of Italy, where transport has been all but brought to a standstill. The army is busy digging the city out of heavy snowfalls which have overwhelmed local services.